Plato’s Cave in Segal’s Studio: Donald Lokuta Exhibition at OSU Urban Arts Space

I promise that I will eventually return to the Riotous Baroque, but for now I want to make a plug for the exhibition that I am curating at the Ohio State Urban Arts Space, which runs from August 6th to September 12th. The exhibition is called Plato’s Cave-Segal’s Studio and is a creative juxtaposition between two photographic series by Donald Lokuta, a New Jersey-based Photographer and Artist. The aim of the show is to see how in his series of photographs set in the studio of sculptor George Segal (1924-2000) Lokuta explores the theme of what he dubs ‘the unseen’,a theme that he also approached in his series inspired by Plato’s analogy of the Cave. In many ways the main point of the exhibition is to blur the boundaries between the two series and to show how Plato’s Cave works in Segal’s Studio. This is done not only by emphasizing the various realities in the artist’s studio  – from the creative process, to works in progress to the finished pieces on display – but also the variety of roles at work within these realities, given that Lokuta not only photographed Segal at work, but was also his good friend, assistant and sometime model. For example, in this photograph of the sculptor at work you can see the cast of Lokuta to the left, while behind Segal is a cast of the artist (the figure with his hands in his pockets), that was actually cast by Lokuta.

Donald Lokuta Casting Martin Friedman for a Figure in Depression Bread Line 1991

These numerous roles for Lokuta in the studio and how they are captured in his photographs, as ‘the unseen’, corresponds to Lokuta’s interest in Plato’ Cave. In that series, which in the exhibition are represented by large-scale projections within a cordoned-off darkened space (while the Segal prints are scattered throughout the gallery), Lokuta’s main focus is on the individual experiences within the collective context of the Cave. These photographs of groups of people at various locations – looking into the distance, sitting on the beach – have what is being looked at – the view – blacked-out by acrylic paint. This has the effect of the viewer being forced to look at each of the figures, more than what they are looking at, as well as at what unites them in their shared setting and also what makes them individual.

Donald Lokuta Six People on Rocks 1986-1987

I am very excited by this exhibition – my very first foray in curating – and I can’t wait to work on the install on Friday and for the opening on Tuesday. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the process of putting it together has been my conversations with Lokuta, who has been so enthusiastic about my interest in Classics and Contemporary Art, both within my focus on his work and beyond. I am sure I will send updates throughout this process, especially as I will be using the exhibition in at least one of the classes I am teaching in the Fall (on ideas of literary and cultural translation for the Comp. Studies Department).

For more information on the exhibition, visit the Urban Art Space website here:

For more work by Lokuta, visit his website:

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