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Existing somewhere between photography, painting, and mixed media, Curtis Mann's altered images are a part of a larger body of work, "Modifications." Mann searches photosharing sites such as Flickr for vernacular photographs from the Middle East and Northern Africa. Collectively collaborating with shooters a world away, he then orders digital C-prints online. Mann's undergraduate training as a mechanical engineer is apparent in his next steps: using acrylic varnish and bleach, he forges a new process that verges on the sublime in subject and method. The images themselves become sites of conflict and peace, elimination and reclamation — beauty and terror coexist as a tabula rasa rises from the ruins.

Mann received his MFA from Columbia College, Chicago, IL in 2008. The artist has recently presented solo exhibitions at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art and the Kusseneers Gallery in Antwerp, Belgium. His group exhibitions include showings at jen bekman gallery, New York, NY; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL; and Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, MA. As a part of the 2008 New York Photo Festival, Mann was included in The Ubiquitous Image, curated by Lesley A. Martin of Aperture. He was a Santa Fe Award nominee in 2007 as well as a Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward Emerging Artist in 2008. Mann's work is featured in the second installment of the Midwest Photographers Publication Project (MP3), co-published by the Museum of Contemporary Photography and Aperture Foundation in 2009.

– Leslie K. Brown

In the "Modifications" series, found photographs of unfamiliar and conflicted places throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa are subjected to a process of selection and erasure. By simply painting on enlarged color photographs with clear acrylic and then bleaching the image with household Clorox bleach, new and abstract meanings are created from these family snapshots, travel photographs, and casual documentations. Thus, the photograph is physically and contextually altered; as a result, the work has the ability to oscillate between image and object, photography and painting, real and imagined.

I am constantly trying to force the medium of photography to function outside of its initial utility and use its malleable nature as a way of coming to an ulterior understanding of the complex and the unfamiliar. This new reading attempts to shift and expand the limits of how we perceive and understand the fragmented world which the photograph attempts to represent.

– Curtis Mann

Museum of Contemporary Photography