When Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal the wizard (of Oz), we find a normal man. When Thomas Struth, through his powerful photographs, provides glimpses into worlds few of us ever will see, we stand in awe of complexities we have little hope of understanding. We see the inside of telescopes and the not-for-public consumption side of complicated technology.
And we walk away with an appreciation of human ambition and imagination. There are 30 reasons to see this new exhibit, “Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics,” at the High Museum of Art, because 30 of Struth’s photographs are on display. For Atlantans, there are three specific reasons to go. There is one Struth photograph of the Georgia Aquarium and two that the German photographer snapped at Georgia Tech. The exhibit is on view through Jan. 8, 2017.
- Golems Playground at Georgia Tech. Golems Playground, which takes its name from an ancient Jewish legend, was part of the Humanoid Robotics Lab. The photo we see shows backpacks and power cords strewn about, but the exhibit informs us that this seemingly mundane work space was, in fact, a site of great technological innovation.
- Georgia Aquarium.This photo shows visitors to the aquarium as they view an exhibit there. Struth considers this photograph an extension of his Museum Photographs series, in which he examines how audiences interact with and experience cultural objects. Though hidden behind a façade, the aquarium requires an immense amount of technology and human ingenuity to sustain sea life in the midst of a landlocked city. Since most of us go to the aquarium to have fun and marvel at the sea life we see, we rarely think of the imagination and technology that went into creating this amazing space.
- Tokamak Asdex Upgrade Interior 2. The third photograph, above, provides a glimpse into Germany's second largest fusion experiment. A tokamak is an apparatus for producing controlled fusion reactions in hot plasma. This is a perfect example of the world into which Struth invites the viewer. While we won't understand the science, we will appreciate the minds that have the capacity to create such complex technology.
Three takeaways from the Struth exhibit:
- The size and scale of the photographs create maximum impact as in, "Wow."
- Struth’s photographs allow us into complex places we will never see on our own.
- We leave with a new appreciation of the human mind and its endless capacity for innovation.
After viewing the Struth exhibit, walk across the piazza to the Anne Cox Chambers wing of the High to see the first retrospective of Southern artist Ronald Lockett, "Fever Within: The Art of Ronald Lockett," A self-taught artist, Lockett used the materials available to him to create his art. He had produced an estimated 400 works of art by the time of his death at age 32.
Viewing his works and seeing how he made art using tin, nails, branches, plastic netting and more, we begin to understand that the human need to create will find a way even without formal education or access to sophisticated materials. This exhibit is on view at the High through Jan. 8, 2017.
If you visit the High around 10 in the morning, that gives you time to see these two exhibits then have lunch or brunch in Midtown. As you eat, you can let your brain absorb all that you have just seen.
Carol Carter writes and edits for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Captions for photos pictured above:
Thomas Struth, German, born 1954, Golems Playground, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, 2013 chromogenic print, 92.5 X 129.1 inches. Copyright Thomas Struth
Thomas Struth, German, born 1954, Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia, 2013, chromogenic print, 81.7 X 140.5 inches. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchased with funds from the Donald and Marilyn Keough Family, the Hagedorn Family, Lucinda W. Bunnen for the Bunnen Collection, and through prior acquisitions, 2014.23. Copyright Thomas Struth.
Thomas Struth, German, born 1954. Tokamak Asdex Upgrade Interior 2, Max Planck IPP, Garding, 2008, chromogenic print, 55.7 X 69.3 inches. Copyright Thomas Struth
Ronald Lockett (American, 1965-1998)Traps, ca. 1992, cut tin, found steel, nails, branches, plastic netting and wood stain mounted on fiberboard. Collection of William S. Arnett. Photograph by Stephen Pitken/Pitken Studio.
Ronald Lockett (American, 1965-1998) A Place in Time, 1989, wood, cloth, net, tin, industrial sealing compound, oil and enamel on wood. Collection of Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Photograph by Stephen Pitken/Pitken Studio.