“On Freedom,” this year’s open call show at Aperture Gallery in New York, was curated by For Freedoms, a platform for civic engagement and action for artists founded by Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman. The show, which opens today and runs until August 17, includes images that address Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, the American ideals he believed were worth fighting for in the looming war: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear. The photographers “each address these issues in their work in varying ways,” the curators write in a statement. “By bringing them together, we aim to open up a dialogue about the nature and necessity of political action, the language and means by which we critique and produce avenues for sustainable change, and the relationship of photography to these issues.”
The show includes work from more than 60 artists who use a variety of approaches to explore a range of subjects and ideas. Jon Henry’s tender and haunting portraits of black women and their young or grown sons addresses the specter of police violence against black men. Demetris Koilalous’s images of refugees in Greece and the marks their transit leaves on the woods and fields they cross are a subtle record of people fleeing in fear. Noritaka Minami’s aerial views California City, a planned but unbuilt development, view the landscape as a map of failed prosperity. Marcus DeSieno’s ghostly landscapes are made from surveillance camera feeds, tinging majestic views of nature with the anxiety of being watched.
Together, the images here “serve as a vehicle for diverse perspectives to visualize social problems, spark dialogue, and transform assumptions,” the curators write. “For many, freedom may be an illusion, but the photographers here are committed to mapping new aspects of this critical terrain—identifying a trail, pointing out dangers along the way—and ever aiming toward the light.”