Laura Poitras

Laura Poitras

O’ Say Can You See?

October 9, 2010 – December 12, 2010

View the Exhibition Booklet here

Where were you on September 11, 2001? Laura Poitras was in lower Manhattan where she lives, and in the hours and days after the bombing and collapse of the World Trade Center Towers she shot film footage of stunned and grief-stricken citizens. The world has dramatically changed since that date, and Poitras has made two probing and powerful documentary films that examine post-9/11 socio-political realities as they impact individuals, families, government policies, and belief systems.

Poitras’s film, My Country, MyCountry (2006), focuses on the U.S. occupation of Iraq, while The Oath (2010) examines the fates of two brothers-in-law, Abu Jandal and Salim Hamdan, whose associations with al-Qaeda provide the drama for the filmmaker’s investigation of faith and loyalty. Her films bring us directly into the complexities of life in Iraq and Yemen, giving context and a human dimension to a world with which we are ill-prepared to understand or sympathize.

O’ Say Can You See? is Poitras’ first art gallery exhibition. Her installation features a projection of the imagery from Ground Zero in 2001, with audio recorded weeks later at the Yankees’ comefrom-behind Game 4 World Series victory on October 20. Poitras has said that “_O’ Say Can You See?_ returns to the moment of innocence when America waited for the dead to arise. It is a meditation on loss and revenge.” Interviews with recently released detainees from Guantanamo Bay are presented on flat screen monitors, adding new layers of information and emotion about the War on Terror.

Poitras was nominated for an Academy Award, Independent Spirit Award and Emmy Award for My Country, My Country (2006). Her most recent film, The Oath (2010), received the Excellence in Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival. She received a Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy and an Independent Spirit Award for Flag Wars (2003; made with Linda Goode Bryant), a documentary about gentrification that premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and won the award for Best Documentary. Her films have been recognized at film festivals including Berlinale, Full Frame, SXSW, New Directors/New Films, San Francisco International Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival and many others. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Media Arts Fellowship from the Tribeca Film Institute.

This exhibition was organized in conjunction with Atlanta Celebrates Photography.

Support for this exhibition provided by Creative Capital and The MacDowell Colony.


Laura Poitras

Laura Poitras is a filmmaker, journalist, and artist.  CITIZENFOUR, the third installment of her post-9/11 Trilogy, won an Academy Award for Best Documentary, along with awards from the British Film Academy, Independent Spirit Awards, Director’s Guild of America, Cinema Eye Honors, and others. Part one of the trilogy, MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY, about the U.S. occupation of Iraq, was nominated for an Academy Award.  Part two, THE OATH, focused on Guantanamo and the war on terror, and was nominated for two Emmy awards.

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