LCVA exhibit features Michael Mergen’s work

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2017

“Memory and the Politics of Place: Michael Mergen” investigates the spaces where the ideals of the United States political system meet the mundane realities of participatory democracy.

The exhibit is on view Jan. 21-March 19. Opening reception is Friday, 5:30-8 p.m., with early entry for LCVA Friends and Partners at 5 p.m. Museum galleries are open Monday-Saturday, 11-5 p.m.; Sundays 1-5 p.m.

It is the first exhibition of Mergen’s work to examine seven of the photographer’s series together as a politically neutral study of Americans’ concepts of their country and its institutions, according to a press release. Mergen, an assistant professor of art/photography at Longwood, became fascinated by the political and civic nature of United States and its citizens when he worked as a photojournalist.

“Each of his series focuses on a different theme, such as voting, jury duty, and the memorialization of people, places and events. Although his subjects may initially seem disparate, all are anchored in transformation,” according to the release.

In Mergen’s “Vote” series, the relatively banal spaces of our lives take on new relevance and power on election days, when private spaces transition into important public spaces in their role as polling precincts. Public space also becomes rather private in his “Memorials to the War on Terror” series, which features vignettes of roads and bridges named in memorial to soldiers killed in combat since Sep. 11, 2001.

In addition to New York Times Magazine, Mergen’s work has been featured in Harper’s, Mother Jones and Once magazines, as well as on Time magazine’s LightBox and Slate.

He has exhibited nationally and internationally, and his work is held in several public and private collections.