Call for Entries: "The Optical"

UPDATE! Allan Chasanoff has reviewed all submissions and made selections for the exhibition. All entrants will be notified of their status via email by end-of-day Friday, April 12. * * *


We've all had the experience of looking at a photograph and not being able to decipher it right away. We ask ourselves "What am I looking at?" Photographer and collector Allan Chasanoff became a connoisseur of this interval of confusion before the image resolves. He found a visceral pleasure in confronting an image that refused to make visual sense, delighting in its resistance and delighting again when that resistance was overcome - a delicious tension and release.

"To be hit by a dislocation transcends the visual alone, and there is a momentary visceral response. It stuns me. It interrupts the stare and startles me. Thus, a major part of my effort in collecting pictures was to find those that did that. The photograph, the genre, the history and the aura of the picture are secondary to this shock. That is why I collected so-called straight images, for a dislocation in the usual." – Allan Chasanoff

Mr. Chasanoff spent nearly 20 years collecting more than 1,200 photographs, many of which embodied this optical problem in photography ("the Optical"), and donated that collection to Yale University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Now he has agreed to jury for Blue Sky a show of your (single-exposure, color or black-and-white, non-Photoshop, "straight") photographs that resist immediate visual deciphering. Digitally shot photographs are acceptable as long as they have not been manipulated or altered with Photoshop or other image-editing applications.

For examples of the the type of photos Mr. Chasanoff is seeking for this exhibition, follow this link to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and reference these publications: First Doubt – Optical Confusion in Modern Photography: Selections from the Allan Chasanoff Collection and Tradition and the Unpredictable.

What do I send? – 8"x10" or 8.5"x11" unmatted and unmounted prints. Mr. Chasanoff will make his selections from the very print(s) you submit. Please, send no more than three prints. For this call, digital files can not be accepted. All prints will be returned to you.

Where do I send them? – The Optical, Blue Sky Gallery, 122 NW 8th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209, USA. Please label your prints on the back with your name, contact information, as well as title, date, medium, and exhibition print size.

When do I send them? – They need to arrive at Blue Sky by 5:00 PM, Friday, March 1, 2013.

What is the entry fee? – There isn't one. Blue Sky is funded by its members and supporters. If you like what we do, please join us.

When is the actual show? – July 5–28, 2013.

What if Mr. Chasanoff is deliciously visually confused enough by my work to select it for the show? – We will inform you right away and request that you send a framed print to Blue Sky for exhibition by June 21, 2013. Blue Sky will cover costs for return shipment.

Is this show going to be great? – Yes.

Whom do I contact with questions? – Lisa Martel, Blue Sky's Exhibition Coordinator, [email address=""]