Hot Picks: Saturday, November 12

Southampton Village is brimming with terrific things to do today.

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To start, the Southampton Arts Center, located at 25 Jobs Lane, opens “Colorama,” the final art exhibit there this year. Organized by the George Eastman Museum, the really fascinating show of “the world’s largest photographs,” according to Kodak, will open with a reception from 4 to 6 p.m.

Here’s a bit of background: in 1950, the Eastman Kodak Company installed the first Colorama on the interior east wall of Grand Central Station. These oversized advertisements were 18 feet high and 60 feet long, requiring more than a mile of cold-cathode tubes to light them from behind. Altogether, 565 Colorama photographs would be situated on this spot over the next 40 years. As a major corporate and aesthetic undertaking, the production of Coloramas required the combined efforts of Kodak’s marketing and technical staffs, and scores of photographers, including such notables as Ansel Adams, Ernst Haas and Eliot Porter.

Until 1990, these illuminated illustrations reflected and reinforced American values and aspirations while encouraging picture-taking as an essential aspect of leisure, travel, family and social life. In the decades that evolved from Levittowns and the baby boom to Watts and Woodstock, they proffered an almost unchanging vision of idealized and perfect landscapes, villages and families, American power and patriotism, and the decorative sentimentality of babies, puppies and kittens. They marked traditional holidays, conventional views of the faraway, and such uplifting current events as a moonwalk and a royal wedding, and they suggested, with varying degrees of explicitness, that such sights could be defined, secured, memorialized and enjoyed through the complementary practice of photography.

Today, these images are figures in the landscape of memory. The Coloramas taught us not only what to photograph but how to see the world as though it were a photograph. They served to manifest and visualize values that even then were seen as nostalgic, fading and in jeopardy, salvageable only through the time defying alchemy of cameras and film. The exhibit will remain on view through December 31.

Additionally, the Southampton Arts Center will host it’s final  “LIVE from Southampton Arts Center”music series tonight at 7:30 p.m. with “The Music of Mali, featuring Yacouba Sissoko and LUMA.” The event is held in partnership with The Jam Session Inc and will be recorded live for The Jam Session Radio Hour to be aired on local NPR affiliate WPPB 88.3 FM.

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Over at the Southampton Cultural Center on Pond Lane, it’s the final DanceFusion performance tonight at 6 p.m. The stars of this show will be the FJK Dance Company from Manhattan, who will bring their blend of contemporary dance out east.

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