Barbara Tannenbaum ’75 curated the exhibition, DIY: Photographers & Books at Cleveland Museum of Art.
Photo by David Brichford • Courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art
I want to focus on three topics in this letter: life beyond Reed, diversity, and the Portland Pride Parade.
The alumni board wants to connect alumni and parents with each other and the college in a collaboration that helps current students, recent graduates, and midcareer alumni advance their plans for life beyond Reed. In building up these relationships, we aim to cultivate a happier, more prosperous, and balanced community of individuals who feel a closer and richer connection with one another and Reed. Find out more.
Reed is an incredibly challenging place, and exemplars play a crucial role in fostering student success. As a member of the outreach committee of the alumni board, Alea Adigweme ’06 is facilitating connections among alumni and students who identify as people of color, GLBTQ, and/or first-generation college attendees. She has been collaborating with Crystal Williams, dean for institutional diversity, on a series of on-campus introductory gatherings between students and alumni. We need your assistance to make this initiative fruitful for all parties involved. Alumni have varying preferences regarding their modes of engagement; please consider getting in touch with Alea by email to share your thoughts on practical ways to create enrichment and mentorship opportunities that will connect students, young alumni, and professionally established alumni who identify in the aforementioned ways.
Last year, Reed joined the Rose Festival for the first time since 1936. This year, it’s Pride. Gay Pride, Queer Pride, Reed Pride.
Reunions, June 12–16, concludes on the same day as the Portland Pride Parade. What a great time for our community to join our community. Who’s interested in marching?
More broadly, we are hoping to develop a network of GLBTQ alumni and students who are willing to mentor, share their stories and experiences, and increase the visibility of our community in the broader Reed community.
If you are interested in getting involved, please contact David Devine ’96. David is also considering the idea of coordinating a “Reed train” for alumni traveling to Reunions ’13 from Vancouver, B.C., and Seattle; if this sounds fun to you, drop him a line!
Popular online services for sharing wedding albums and baby pictures have paved the way for do-it-yourself (DIY) photobooks, which have in turn revolutionized how artists do art and promote themselves. In December, 16 Reedies (spanning 44 years in class years), family, and friends from northeast Ohio attended a gallery talk on this art genre by Barbara Tannenbaum ’75, Cleveland Museum of Art’s curator of photography.
Barbara’s exhibition, DIY: Photographers & Books, was heralded as one of the best exhibits in Cleveland last fall, and one could see why! “It’s very different from almost every other display in the museum,” Tannenbaum says. “You can handle all the art. And it’s very inexpensive. If you like it, you can buy it.” One of Tannenbaum’s favorite pieces is the teeny, tiny Things Darby Chewed, a chronicling of items that the photographer’s dog got its mouth on. Another multivolume work titled ASTRONOMICAL boasts one letter of the title on each spine. More importantly, the pages take the reader through the entire solar system. Each double-page spread represents 2 million kilometers, and most simply show empty black space. An aptly named piece, Psycho, captures every frame from the famous Hitchcock film. After the tour, many in the group stayed to share in conversation, food, and drinks at the museum’s recently opened Provenance Café.
Live in or near the Cleveland area? Want to join us? Email Chantal Sudbrack ’97
Zines of dissent, an archive of samizdat materials from the Soviet bloc at George Washington University’s Gelman Library.
“What is this?” Sophie Mayer ’11 asked as she struggled to make a connection between a postcard with the chemical structure for haloperidol and the Cold War cultural artifacts displayed in front of her. Haloperidol, an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia, was employed by the Soviet regime in punitive psychiatry. The postcard was part of Baltimore’s Smoloskyp Publishing House effort to draw attention to Soviet dissenters and to the brutality of psychiatric abuse.
Alumni get-togethers often come in the form of networking, sporting, and fundraising events. But the D.C. chapter opted for something a little different in September—a guided view of the samizdat materials at George Washington University’s Gelman Library. Samizdat comes from truncating the Russian самсебяиздатъ, meaning “I published myself,” in contrast to officially sanctioned publishing houses. At the heart of the collection are materials created, published, and distributed through informal political, religious, and cultural circles.
Our group explored two archives. The first held essentially political materials: letters of protest, trial transcripts, descriptions of arrest, human-rights observance, and descriptions of confinement. Curator Mark Yoffe referred to this as “classic samizdat.” The second featured “zines” (self-published magazines) and extensive holdings of historical recordings of Soviet bard and rock music. Together the two collections illustrate the breadth of the dissident movement.
Samizdat branched out into several manifestations. Magnitizdat derives from magnetic tape and was mostly produced on homemade LPs made from x-ray plates, on pirated LP discs, reel-to-reel tape, and cassettes. Underground music and poetry readings became the samizdat of performing art. There was artistic samizdat, created in a variety of artistic media from drawings and cartoons to photography, oil paintings, sculpture, and installations. Underground exhibits became the samizdat of curatorial art. There were also samizdat lectures, symposia, readings, and recitals.
Samizdat became an industry. Though political samizdat was usually provided free, other material—translations, music, art—carried a price. There was a significant black market for samizdat recordings of Western bands.
Alumni were full of questions. Freya De Cola ’67 admitted that the lecture challenged her association of samizdat with literature and asked how the movement fit with analogous movements happening worldwide. Paul Levy ’72 delved into questions about how Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty verified documents that came through their archive. James Meador ’09 impressed the crowd with his familiarity with obscure pieces in the collection relating to Soviet Buddhology. James wrote his senior thesis on the topic and pressed Yoffe for a more nuanced explanation of the cacophony of voices found in samizdat. Yoffe discussed the tensions between the groups represented in the archives. He emphasized that the samizdat method gave expression to divergent agendas and was adopted by groups that disliked one another outright.
The evening was topped off with Georgian food and wine as we mingled by a display telling the story of two prominent dissidents—Yuly Daniel and Andrei Siniavsky—whose trial marked a turn in the life of samizdat. During bursts of chatter between bites, stories of Reedies’ archival processing and researching at the Moscow archive Memorial, and thoughts on the recently sentenced Russian punk band Pussy Riot made their way into conversation.
Hey! Have ideas for organizing Reed events in your own city? Alumni board members Julia Chamberlain ’03 and Paul Levy ’72 are looking for Reedies who are enthusiastic about planning occasional events like Thirsty Third Thursdays in the following cities:
Ann Arbor, MI
Other international cities