Since 2010, the Italian photographer Nicola Lo Calzo has traversed Atlantic coastal areas to research buried memories of the African Diaspora. His latest project, Bundles of Wood documents the rich local history of the Underground Railroad in Central New York. Lo Calzo was born in Torino, Italy, in 1979 and now lives and works in Paris, West Africa, and the Caribbean. For seven years he has engaged in a photographic project about the memories of the slave trade. This ambitious, still ongoing project includes documentation of the descendants of the African diaspora in America, Cuba, Haiti, Suriname, the Caribbean, and West Africa. In his artist’s statement, Lo Calzo asks, “How is it possible that the world organized the social, political, and moral consensus around the slave trade for four centuries, and how is it possible to erase this tragedy from the collective memory of Western countries and even from textbooks? Have the memories of slavery, discarded by history, survived to this day and, if so, in what forms and in what places? How do these memories, repressed by some and preserved by others, define our everyday relationships, our perception, and the place of everyone in society?”
In September 2017, Lo Calzo participated in a month-long residency at Light Work, during which he researched and documented Central New York’s own rich history of the Underground Railroad. Bundles of Wood is the resulting photo essay, tracing a clandestine network active up to the American Civil War. In Lo Calzo’s photographs, echoes of slavery linger and reverberate across the centuries. Slaves and “conductors” on the Underground Railroad used the phrase “bundles of wood” as a secret code to communicate “incoming fugitives were expected.” Nicola Lo Calzo is represented in France by Dominique Fiat. He participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in September 2017.
Nicola Lo Calzo: Bundles of Wood is funded in part by the Syracuse Symposium, an annual public events series, exploring the humanities through lectures, workshops, performances, exhibits, films, readings, and more. The year’s programming engages the meaning and impact of “Silence” from diverse perspectives and genres across a range of locations, locally and globally.
Join us Friday, October 11, 6PM for a discussion exploring the intersection of Photography, Race, Memory and the African Diaspora with playwright Kyle Bass and “Bundles of Wood” exhibiting artist Nicola Lo Calzo. This event is FREE and open to the public.
Accompanying the exhibition, Contact Sheet 202 includes an essay by Mary Lee Hodgens. Purchase the catalog online in the Light Work shop at www.lightwork.org/shop
Light Work offers guided tours to engage community groups with its exhibitions. Led by gallery staff, tours provide visitors with a range of ways to look at, engage with and enjoy works in the photographic medium. Groups are also welcome to plan self-guided visits. Sign-up here:
Limited free public parking is available after 5PM and paid parking is available in Booth Parking Garage adjacent to Light Work.