Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shout out from Maine Sunday Telegram

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer Posted: January 22

“Mary Bok with Surely & Honey the Dogs, Camden, Maine,” 2011, from the exhibition of Tanja Alexia Hollander’s portraits of her Facebook friends, opening in February at the Portland Museum of Art.
Courtesy of Portland Museum of Art
WHERE: Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square
WHEN: Feb. 4 to June 17. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.
HOW MUCH: $12; $10 for seniors and students with ID; $6 for ages 13 to 17; free for ages 12 and younger; free for all after 5 p.m. Fridays
WHAT ELSE: At 6 p.m. March 8, museum director Mark Bessire and Hollander will discuss the show and her work.

And in February, the Portland Museum of Art opens a solo show by Maine photographer Tanja Alexia Hollander that taps into the social media and Facebook phenomena. "Tanja Alexia Hollander: Are You Really My Friend?" uses Hollander's portrait work to explore friendships in the context of social media.

Social media as art
At the Portland Museum of Art, Hollander will explore the concept of friendship in the Facebook age with "Are You Really My Friend?" It opens Feb. 4 as part of the museum's ongoing "Circa" series that specializes in contemporary art.  For the past year, Hollander, who lives in Auburn, has traveled around the country to visit as many of her Facebook friends as possible. Some she knows well, others she had never met. This show features 59 photographs that will remain up throughout the show, as well as new ones added during the course of the show. 

Her Facebook project is an ongoing concern, and Hollander has planned a series of events designed to engage museum visitors.

Hollander is best known as a landscape photographer. She founded the Bakery Photographic Collective, now based in Westbrook.

This project, which started with an idea sparked by a quiet residency in the French countryside, has led her into the next phase of her career.

A St. Louis native, she moved to Portland as a teenager. She took photography classes at Maine College of Art while still in high school, and earned her bachelor's degree at Hampshire College in Massachusetts in 1994. She has shown regularly in Maine, New York, Boston and elsewhere, and has twice been selected for the Portland Museum of Art Biennial, winning a purchase prize in 2007.

With this project, Hollander has attempted to remove the virtual limitations of social media by visiting her friends -- 600 and counting -- in person and presenting them as profiles in their homes.  "It's awkward to show up on someone's doorstep with a camera," she told the Maine Sunday Telegram last fall.  "But what I am realizing as I travel and as I meet people, one of the things that is most striking to me is how generous people are. Which is the opposite of what you would expect from a Facebook project.

"These people are real and genuine. People have fed me and offered me a place to stay."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be reached at 791-6457 or:
Twitter: pphbkeyes

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