Reviews

Photography/Video Reviews

Critical Press Quotes:

In New City: Chicago and The Reader, January 2003.
About Thicker Than Water, two-person show, held at Flatfile Photography Gallery, Chicago.

“A surrealist after the fashion of Salvador Dali, Cara Alhadeff uses projections, reflections and plays of light to confect color scenario photographs that reveal her deeply ambivalent feelings about the human body. In “Another Discordant Sigh,” which could serve as the title of her show, we see a pile of naked reddish-yellow torsos on a wooden table that look like so many chickens from the supermarket. The Scene is simultaneously erotic and repulsive, evoking the complex emotions that we experience in dreams or in the traumatic sexual events that generate them. Pathos, danger and desire mingle and separate in Alhadeff s symbolically freighted images; tangled bodies are visual metaphors of mixed motives. Alhadeff s photography cuts deeper than feminist criticism and post-feminist affirmation, penetrating the troubled psyche that Freud said knows no time.”

From Tip of the Week, by Michael Weinstein.
In New Art Examiner, October 1999.
About Wall to Wall Nudes held at Sande Webster Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.

“Alhadeff’s intimate [strange portrait photographs] of bodies, distorted twice over, first by multiple reflections in mirrors, and second by metal rods and leather pads that prod and obscure the body, question the body’s fundamental integrity-and the wholeness of our concepts of it-in a manner related to recent performance art and computer-manipulated photographs.”

From Varieties of Naked Experience: Particulars of the Human Body in Recent Art by Tom Csaszar
In The San Francisco Bay Guardian, June 1998.
About Inside the Visible, two-person show, held at Crucible Steel Gallery, San Francisco.

“It’s easy to see why artists might want to subvert the standard gallery setup. By rejecting chaste white was and traditional display modes, an artist can hope to prod viewers toward new ways of seeing.Against this backdrop hang the haunting photographs of Cara Judea Alhadeff, which dangle from the ceiling and are illuminated from behind by bare bulbs. With their juxtaposition of diverse elements, Alhadeff’s poster-size prints also challenge viewer’ assumptions about beauty and order. A dead bird’s foot sits next to a human armpit, swathes of brightly colored silk lie around the top of a shaven head. While these elements are decontextualized and shot in extreme close-up, the photographs’ gorgeous orange and blue hues place them firmly in the realm of the sensual.”

From Pretty on the Inside by Sarah Coleman.
In The San Francisco Chronicle, November 1997.
About Viscous Expectations, solo exhibit, held in San Francisco’s City Hall.

“The best part of the exhibit is watching the reaction of politicos when their visitors see the display [29 color photographs by Cara Judea Alhadeff]. I walked by a couple of times before I actually stopped and looked,’ rookie Supervisor Gavin Newsom said, shaking his head. All I can say is Jeez.’ Give it time, Gavin, give it time.”

From For Art’s Sake by Matier and Ross
In The Plain Dealer, October 1995.
About Body of Evidence held at the Cleveland State University Museum, OH.

“The show contains 75 works by 13 artists, including nationally known figures such as Cindy Sherman, John Coplans and Joel Peter Witkin [Sally Mann, Alfredo Jarr, Dieter Appelt] Visitors are greeted to the exhibition by [Witkin’s] photograph of two body-piercing masochists, and by a gruesome still life in which a severed foreleg with foot attached is depicted matter-of-factly along with a fish, a bunch of grapes and a loaf of bread. In a similar vein (no pun intended) Cara Judea Alhadeff is represented by 17 color photographs that focus closely on parts of living people juxtaposed with sharp pieces of metal and glass, bits of decaying organic matter and otherwise unidentifiable, creepy looking stuff. The images repel with their intimation of unpleasant physical sensations, while their quasi-abstract compositions elicit curiosity and hold a viewer”s attention. Witkin and Alhadeff push the envelope stabled by Thurmer’s exhibition while other artists [such as John Coplans, Sally Mann, and Cindy Sherman] explore less painful territory.”

From Bodies real and surreal, warts and all by Steven Litt.
In The Cleveland Free Times, October 1995.
About Body of Evidence held at the Cleveland State University Museum, OH.

“The most interesting young work is by.Cara Judea Alhadeff, whose surreal color photographs reward long looking. Blending tiny segments of human bodies with various organic materials, she creates new organisms that appear while under examination, accomplishing a recognition of the self in relations to nature that is also a critique of the objectifying, segmentizing eye of science–and art. If John Coplans’ magnifying lens is the source of the exhibition, Alhadeff’s microscope is its logical extension.”
From The Subject: The Body by Frank Green
In People for the American Way, Censorship Anthology, 1995.
About Matter Adheres to Matter held at the Pennsylvania State University Library.

“A university official ordered the removal of five photos from the school library in State College, Pennsylvania in response to threats by library staff to strike unless works they claimed are sexually explicit were removed.

Matter Adheres to Matter is an exhibit featuring thirty large photographs by Cara Judea Alhadeff, an undergraduate at Pennsylvania State University. According to the artist, her work is a process of confronting, exposing, and undermining the different ideologies in society which are trying to control the body.’ The large scale, ambiguous photos of male and female body fragments, which do not include genitalia, are intended to question what we choose to perceive as ‘real’ or ‘truth’.

After reviewing Alhadeff’s work, Jennifer Olson, who selects works for display at Penn State University Library, scheduled two shows featuring the artist’s photographs. According to Alhadeff, Olson required her to sign an agreement barring works from the library’s exhibition spaces that are ‘one-sided displays on religious, political, or social issues or that may be considered sexually explicit or graphically offensive.’

After exhibiting eight works in the library without complaint, Alhadeff delivered thirty works for her second exhibit for Olson’s review. Unable to approve one of the images in the series, Olson referred the photograph, which depicts pubic hair and pieces of metal, to her supervisor, Loanne Snavely. After Snavely approved the photo, the exhibit was installed in the East Corridor Gallery of the library. Two days later, in response to threats by library staff who refused to come to work until the exhibit was removed, Associate Dean for Collections and References Services, Salvatore Meringolo ordered Olson to remove five of the works. The staff claimed the works violated the exhibition policy and another recently enacted policy designed to keep pornography and sexually explicit’ material from being posted in lockers or offices of that library. Meringolo justified the removal of the works by alleging that the installation was not yet complete, because the artist’s statement was not yet in place. Yet after it was finally installed, Meringolo ordered the removal of an image which appeared on the artist’s statement.

Not satisfied with partial removal, people continued to challenge the entire exhibit calling the works ‘degrading the human body,’ immoral,’ and inappropriate for a library.’

According to Alhadeff, Snavely and Olson supported the exhibit, but felt that if they defended it they might lose their jobs. ‘I had to hide out for a couple of days,’ said Olson, who claimed that objector harassed her for allowing the exhibit to remain on display.

When Snavely informed the artist of the incident, Alhadeff responded in a campus journal. She wrote, ‘Given that the term ‘explicit’ generally refers to what is perceived as ‘clearly defined’ and ‘precise’, I find it ironic that the protest demanding the removal of [the exhibit] labeled my work as ‘sexually explicit’…Did those who found my photographs ‘offensive’ feel threatened by what they actually saw or by what they imagined they were seeing?’ Alhadeff requested that school official conduct a forum to discuss the incident and revise the exhibition policy.

In response, library officials told Alhadeff that revising the exhibition policy would take too much time and energy and doing so may jeopardize the ‘privilege’ of the exhibition space and further restrict exhibit content. Alhadeff plans to conduct a forum and is scheduled to exhibit more works in the library.”

Two years later, similar events occurred in San Francisco’s City Hall and Oakland’s Federal Building following Andres Serrano’s censorship of “Piss Christ”, Artistic Freedom Under Attack.

Acclaim for Zazu Dreams


“Impressive.” DR. NOAM CHOMSKY, author of Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

“Compelling.” EVE ENSLER, author of The Vagina Monologues

“Astonishing.” PAUL HAWKEN, author of The Ecology of Commerce

Zazu Dreams is a “fascinating book. … This is a real cosmic adventure—through space, through time, through the human heart.” BILL McKIBBEN, author of The Comforting Whirlwind

“Zazu Dreams is a fascinating story that launches a new genre of book called edutainment. Amazing Research!” ARUN GANDHI, Founder/President, M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence / Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi

“Zazu Dreams reclaims the power of language as both a poetic intervention into politics and storytelling and as a powerful force for reclaiming the radical imagination. Zazu Dreams moves across disciplinary borders, collapses genres, unsettles how we think about the planet and the need to keep it going, and inspires and energizes a sense of individual and social agency and collective hope as it unfolds. This is a brilliant book whose relevance cuts across generations, merges the space between adult and child, and gives the poetic as a force for struggle and hope a new and urgent political register.” DR. HENRY GIROUX, author of Disposable Futures: Violence in the Age of the Spectacle

“Zazu Dreams bursts forth from its cover, showering the reader with art, song, language, spirituality, joy, and history. In the spirit of Le Petit Prince, the door to adult reflection is opened by a child guide. With the query, “Who needs imaginary monsters or giants or evil empires when corporations like Nestle and PepsiCo, Merck and Monsanto destroy everything in their path?” Zazu Dreams challenges us with the notion that knowledge of evil, even for the very young, is the clearest path to good. From climate change to Big Oil, war to slavery, Zazu faces the worst of humanity, while simultaneously basking in the beauty that constantly amazes and surrounds, teaching that we must live in harmony with and as caretakers of this earth and all upon it, if we wish the same in return. Three generations take us on a journey to be enjoyed by all ages. A grandmother’s artwork joins a mother’s storytelling to create an adventure for her son into what it means to be human that is unrestricted by space, time or prejudice, only his—and through him our own—limitless imagination.“ ANTONIA JUHASZ, author of The Tyranny of Oil.

“A thoughtful, insightful, meaningful exploration of so many of the dimensions of what it is to be human in this world. Brilliant!” THOM HARTMANN, author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight – See a video of Thom Hartmann’s endorsement

 

“Cara Judea Alhadeff is remarkably unafraid to face up to the controlling influences of the chemical industry on the US government, causing great harm to our nation’s children who are suffering from exposure to chemicals in their food, water, and vaccines. Alhadeff sees the world from a perspective that few others can achieve– addressing issues of toxic chemical exposure and the way the forces in power manipulate the population to fall in line towards unreasonable and in many cases unethical goals. Her original thinking will have significant impact on society.” DR. STEPHANIE SENEFF, Senior Research Scientist, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory – See a video of Dr Seneff’s endorsement.

“[F]abulous! … A powerful and visionary story wonderfully told and beautifully illustrated.” DAVID W. ORR, author of Dangerous Years

Zazu Dreams is “… absolutely fascinating with superb drawings and an innovative juxtaposition between a very serious subject and its narrative unraveling as a childlike adventure. … [A] totally original concept for a sociologically relevant topic. … The book is an extraordinary fusion of fanciful allegory, childhood perception, ecological prophecy and sociological parable … all woven together in a profound tapestry of consummate scholarship. Richly enlivened by the imaginative illustrations of Micaela Amato, Zazu’s youthful curiosity propels him through a global succession of apocalyptic encounters and joyfully elevating adventures. In the most poetic way, his ‘dreams’ embody a microcosm of global conflicts, premonitions, celebrations and spiritual aspirations. The unique accomplishment of this book is its capacity to simultaneously bridge the human condition through the innocent perceptions of a child and the world-weary apprehensions of an adult. Zazu Dreams is definitely an enlightening story for all ages.” JAMES WINES, Green Architect Founder of SITE architect

“Zazu Dreams thoughtfully and colorfully addresses the crucial need for young people to develop feelings for humanity and all life.” DR. JAMES E. HANSEN, Director of the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, Earth Institute, Columbia University

“An original and intriguing book, history meets the age of the anthropocene in a big bang in Zazu Dreams. Whimsical and instructive, fable-like and scholarly, this is a children’s book that spares the young neither the bad news nor hope for the work ahead. It is a phantasmagoric read for adults and a visual feast for all generations!” DR. DALIA KANDIYOTI, author of Migrant Sites: America, Place, and Diaspora Literatures

 

“In Zazu Dreams: Between the Scarab and the Dung Beetle, Dr. Cara Judea Alhadeff elegantly tackles complex subject matter. A book for all ages, Zazu Dreams touches upon the complicated nature of human existence, from one end to another, with intelligence and beauty.” JOSEPH JENKINS, author of The Humanure Handbook

“…very originally crafted and beautifully illustrated…” DR. KAREN BARAD, author of Meeting the Universe Halfway: quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning

“We’re in the midst of damaged life, and continuing with the same old modes of thought and imagination will almost certainly allow the damage to continue. Zazu Dreams generates a new imaginary that looks beyond sustainability to genuine transformation. Rather than survival as we are, Zazu Dreams raises the possibility of a creative and marvelous new world.” DR. CLAIRE COLEBROOK, author of Death of the PostHuman

“Every thought, word and action we put forth, no matter how tiny or huge, whether in the streets or in offices, underground or above, either hurts or helps the wave of prosperity to ensure a bright future for humanity, and for all life on this planet & beyond. Zazu Dreams is a beautiful example of keeping our work and our play focused on our most crucial mission, securing our survival and our freedom. Let every breath we take help that wave.” GREGORY “SHKG / HUMPTY-HUMP” JACOBS, Digital Underground

“Zazu Dreams is a truly magical tale for people of all ages and all faiths (or none)—a magnificent way to introduce children to the reality of the environmental crisis while simultaneously teaching some of the deep spiritual messages that are the common heritage of humanity. Your life and your children’s lives will be greatly enriched by reading (and studying) this amazing story and its accompanying commentary!” RABBI MICHAEL LERNER, author of Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation

Praise for Viscous Expectations

“The pride of the European Graduate School, Cara Judea Alhadeff breaks new ground with her first book. Devoted to a radical engagement with embodied democracy, the work offers wide-ranging insight into precarious textual adventure and the artistic intercept. A bold and remarkable boundary-crossing on a number of crucial levels.” —Avital Ronell, Professor of the Humanities, New York University, Jacques Derrida Professor of Philosophy and Media, European Graduate School Switzerland, author of Loser Sons: Politics and Authority

“In Viscous Expectations, Cara Judea Alhadeff offers an innovative hybrid of complex theoretical discourse, performative photography, and timely political analysis. He treatment of vulnerability is particularly provocative, as are her analyses of the collision of the hyperphysical with the hyper virtual. Alhadeff opens up new ways of thinking about contemporary life and sexuality, while delving deep into myriad subjects. Everything is embodied, endowed with a sensual visual or verbal presence– from dreams, to pregnancy and motherhood, to Occupy Wall Street. Alhadeff’s work is a fascinating fusion of art and scholarship. Intricate theoretical text is paralleled by unexpected photographic imagery – sensuous, enigmatic, and layered. The book extends into new and fluid realms the still valid idea that ‘the personal is political.’ Intellectually rigorous and esthetically daring, the book is hard work, and worth it.” —Lucy R. Lippard, art writer, curator, and activist. Author of 22 books on art and cultural criticism.

“A radical provocation envisioning a ‘collaborative emancipatory project’ based on a ‘dialectic of the unresolvable’ and the ‘becoming impossible.’ Alhadeff’s Viscous Expectations: Justice, Vulnerability, The Ob-scene, presents the work of an extraordinary individual whose fascinating auto-biography— an American, Spanish/Turkish Jew —breathes a renewed sense of urgency into a lived philosophy, ‘perceiving the world through possibility rather than prescription.’ Intimating an ae(s)thetics of contestation, intercession, resistance, and outrage, Alhadeff’s project reinvigorates the scandal that is philosophy. A tour de force, whose intellectual and aes_(t)(h)etic bravura will stun the reader.”—Sigrid Hackenberg y Almansa, Assistant Professor of Art and Philosophy, European Graduate School Switzerland, Chair of Independent Studies, Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, Portland, Maine, author of Total History, Anti-History, and the Face that is Other

Viscous Expectations: Justice, Vulnerability, the Ob-scene by Cara Judea Alhadeff is exactly what an ‘art book’ should be, it offers a unique and singular world view, posing more questions than answers, but advancing lines of thought and arguments into uncomfortable territory in the form of photos and text to create a further understanding of ourselves. The first impressions of her work always offer uncertain footing, causing one to find their own balance of previously conceived notions and context, and then challenge them with the new information Judea Ahadeff offers with her sensual, beautiful and often disturbing pictures. This is important work by an artist that is unflinching with her camera and pen.” —Robert Mailer Anderson, author of Boonville, producer of “Pig Hunt”

Cara Judea Alhadeff’s long and rigorous experience of finding new visions and new ways of seeing with photography lead to this dense and far-reaching discourse. ‘I don’t experience my photographic work as strictly ‘photography’—but rather as a two-dimensional manifestations of dance, sculpture, poetry, sociological investigation, and philosophical engagement’.(326) With enormous energy and theoretical appetite, her thought exposes itself to the most difficult and most radical contemporary thinkers, contesting them with her own experience and insights. She also engages with viewers who are critical, censorious, and simply puzzled—igniting consternation, unheard-of issues, and insights. Her thought is unlimited, ambitious, and vulnerable. It issues in putting vulnerability central, rather than individual autonomy or collective enterprise, rather than the subject of rights or the construction of institutions; and, opens a new perspective on justice and democracy.”
Alphonso Lingis, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Penn State University, author of Violence and Splendor, Dangerous Emotions, Trust