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University of Iowa News Release

April 8, 2005

UI Museum Of Art Offers A Tour Of 'Acting Out' April 17

The University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) will offer a tour of "Acting Out: Invented Melodrama in Contemporary Photography," an exhibition currently on display in the museum's North Gallery, at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 17.

The tour will be led by Kathleen A. Edwards, curator of prints, drawings, photographs and new media at the UIMA and curator of the "Acting Out" exhibition.

Edwards' tour is part of a series of weekly public tours of the museum's collections and exhibitions at 2 p.m. Sundays during the spring. The final two tours in this series, which will be April 24 and May 1, will be free, open to the public and led by museum docents -- trained volunteers who are familiar with the museum and its collections.

"Acting Out" identifies melodrama as a major theme in contemporary fine art photography. In the exhibition, 32 photographs by 14 artists make use of the long-standing language of melodrama inspired by literature, theatre, cinema, television, advertising and photojournalism.

"The exhibition illustrates a popular trend in contemporary photography," said Edwards. "The photographers take on the role of director and performer and use melodrama to stimulate the viewer's imagination."

During Edwards' tour of "Acting Out" she will describe the function of melodrama in the exhibition photographs and give a brief overview of some of the sources employed by the photographers, including literature, theatre, film stills and historic photography sources.

Edwards will also discuss and explain some of the elaborate technical methods used by the photographers, including the complicated sets by Gregory Crewdson that are reminiscent of the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Some of the photographs in the "Acting Out" exhibition refer to memorable media images. "Untitled" by Israeli artist Adi Nes, for example, mimics the intensity of a famous photograph taken by John Filo during the violence at Kent State University May 4, 1970, while it also alludes to the current crisis in the Middle East.

"Many of the photographs in the exhibition strive to critique the status quo and challenge societal archetypes," said Edwards. "The photographs also stimulate all kinds of personal and cultural memories, giving viewers cues that allow them to create their own stories surrounding the moments presented in the photographs."

Narrative structures also provide a popular format for many of the photographs in the exhibition. For example, Yinka Shonibare's installation "Dorian Gray" depicts Shonibare in the guise of Oscar Wilde's self-indulgent character, and the dream-world scenarios invented by German artist Janaina Tschape find their inspiration in science fiction.

Other artists represented in "Acting Out" include Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Cindy Sherman and Jeff Wall.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 62-page catalogue with 40 color and black-and-white reproductions, distributed by the University of Washington Press.

"Acting Out" will be on display at the UIMA through June 5. The exhibition will later be shown at the Neuberger Museum of Art at the State University of New York at Purchase, Sept. 4-Dec. 31.

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit on the World Wide Web. Information on other UI arts events is available at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,; Writer: Krystle Johnson

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