Privilege of 1% highlighted in Samek spring exhibition

Haley Mullen, Assistant News Editor

Members of the University and local community entered the Samek Art Museum on Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. and were greeted by an unusual sight: a buffet serving one serving of filet mignon and an entire platter of meatloaf side-by-side. The opening for the Samek spring exhibition, “1%: Privilege in a Time of Global Inequality,” featured food and live music to accompany the theme of economic disparity.

Addressing the crowd of 150 guests, Samek Director Richard Rinehart said he chose to bring this show to the University “as global inequality has been on the rise in recent years.” Rinehart said that when he discovered that the 2018 University Diversity Summit theme is “Identity, Inclusion and Social Transformation: Centering Class, Power and Privilege,” he thought there could be “a broader conversation on campus about these issues.”

The show, curated by Miles Little, a Senior Photo Editor for Time Magazine, brings together the work of 30 renowned photographers. Some of the works within the exhibit contain an opposition “point-counterpoint” piece, such as photographer Alex Majoli’s photo showing a racing boat in Abu Dhabi and Jörg Brüggemann’s photo of a refugee boat arriving in Greece. However, “the idea of this exhibition is not to glorify the one percent but to capture the really subtle everyday moments within the lives of the one percent and to display moments made possible through affluence,” Emily Izer, Samek public programs and outreach manager, said.

“1%: Privilege in a Time of Global Inequality” has been on display in over 30 locations since 2015, including Dubai, Cape Town, and Berlin. Prior to the Samek Art Museum, the exhibition was shown at the University of Virginia. The arrangement of the photographs has varied per location, depending on the preferences of each gallery or museum. However, for the Samek’s exhibition space, the layout was selected by Little himself.

During the opening, Gabe Gomez ’19 pointed to two pieces that captured his interest: Zed Nelson’s image of a wall around a home armed with broken glass and a photo of the pollution in the Niger Delta by Philippe Chancel.

“I just think these two are pretty crazy because people are living like that,” Gomez said. “And with the oil photo, the environment is being destroyed, and we know it. But it’s just running wild.”

The exhibition also includes an interactive element where guests place a pin on a wall containing a layout of possible annual incomes. Behind this wall, a chart depicts the annual incomes of both the national and global ninety-nine and one percent.

“We want to get people to think about our own position and where we are as individuals and a community. Are we the 99 percent or the 1 percent? And if we are the one percent what are our responsibilities that come with that?” Rinehart said.

“This is a very relatable exhibition. It causes us students, especially, to check our privilege and think about visual representations of economic disparities,” Devon Daniusis ’18 said.

“1%: Privilege in a Time of Global Inequality” will be on display until March 11 at the Samek Art Museum, located on the top floor of the Elaine Langone Center.

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