Kean University Distinguished Professor Donald Lokuta will display his photography in a solo exhibition from April 28 through May 28 at hpgrp gallery New York in Manhattan. The collection of photographs, In Plato's Cave, is about a world of illusion and belief. They were inspired by the "Allegory of the Cave" in Plato's Republic, in which Plato used the cave as a metaphor.
"Plato sees many of us as prisoners in a cave," said Lokuta, "only able to see distorted traces of reality as shadow figures cast on the cave wall. In Plato's Cave captures the idea that we all live in a cave where, to one degree or another, we accept much of what we hear and see as the truth."
The series began in 1984 with a trip to Maine, where Lokuta made photographs of people at scenic overlooks and walking among the rocks along the coast. While photographing, he wondered what it was these people really saw. He concluded that what they saw had to be different than what he perceived. Each person would have a different interpretation based on individual knowledge and experience.
For Lokuta, who teaches photography in the Fine Arts department at Kean, this observation was a metaphor for the ways in which we understand the world in general, and that truth is based on information and knowledge, and that what we perceive as truth may be based on illusion and belief. The forty photographs in the exhibition are gelatin silver prints with the background painted out in black acrylic paint.
"The deliberate omission of photographed information is an expression of our inability to truly understand," said Lokuta. "The photographs are about the struggle between enlightenment and darkness."
A book by the same title, In Plato's Cave, was published in conjunction with the exhibition, and will be available at the gallery. The publication contains 55 photographs, an introduction by Donna Gustafson (curator at Rutgers University and Andrew W. Mellon liaison for academic programs) and an essay by artist Robert Yoskowitz (who is also a senior professor of fine arts at Union County College).