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Emily Schiffer to be Keynote Speaker at Symposium in France


On March 27, Stamps graduate student Emily Schiffer (MFA 16) will be a keynote speaker at Representations of Power and Power of the Image in British and American Contemporary Photography,” a Symposium and workshop at the University of Nantes in France. 

Emily will present her public art project, SEE POTENTIAL, which installs large-scale documentary photographs onto abandoned buildings on the South Side of Chicago. Schiffer and Co-founder Orrin Williams sought to repurpose documentary photograph as advertising for community-driven revitalization plans in the area. SEE POTENTIAL aims to enable residents, community leaders, and elected officials to visualize the potential for sustainable, locally owned community development and to mobilize community support behind great ideas. 

SEE POTENTIAL created a text messaging infrastructure and online mapping system to record the support at each SEE POTENTIAL location. Onlookers are encouraged to sign an informal petition of support via text messaging. Community partners then use this data to launch their idea to the next level. For example, the documented support can help convince banks to give loans, or be presented to elected officials to gain their support.

The project is produced in partnership with the Magnum Foundation, NY and the Center for Urban Transformation in Chicago. SEE POTENTIAL was made possible through the generous support of Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project, Compton Foundation, Panta Rhea Foundation, and 377 Kickstarter backers. The project has been featured in Aperture Magazine, PDN, TIME Lightbox, Modern Art News Podcast, and WBEZ Chicago.