"If I Could See Your Face, I Would Not Need Food" by Eric Gottesman

Gallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center
August 25 - September 29
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Artist Reception: September 2, 11:15 a.m. - Noo


In 1999, I began making portraits of people in Ethiopia with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). As a result of the stigma around the disease, subjects did not allow me to photograph their faces. Over the next five years, I made anonymous portraits of people with HIV.

In 2004, when for the first time a woman with HIV allowed me to photograph her face, the project was completed.

All names have been changed to protect the identities of the subjects. 


Eric Gottesman is a photographic artist and organizer. Central to his practice is collaboration. He uses photography, writing and film as vehicles to engage others in conversation and critical thought about the social structures that surround them, and him. He works slowly, often spending a long time in a community, and exhibits work locally first, to an audience determined by the co-creators of the work.

Since 1999 he has been working in and around the Middle East and Africa collaborating with communities to produce photographs and videos that often challenge preexisting images and perceptions of a culture and/or place as well as the concept of singular artistic authorship. Over 10 years ago, Gottesman worked with a group of Ethiopian children whose parents died of AIDS to found Sudden Flowers, an art collective that produces photographs, videos, installations, and performances in their own community. Interested in how photography functions within the social sphere as the repository for individual and collective memory and as factual and fictional documents, many of Gottesman’s projects examine the quiet, long-term, psychological impact of mass trauma.

Gottesman studied politics and economics and, later, art. In 2003, he was named one of the top 25 young American photographers. He has earned a Fulbright Fellowship in art as well as awards from the Magnum Foundation, Artadia, the Aaron Siskind Foundation, apexart, the Open Society Foundation and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. His work is in various collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His first book, Sudden Flowers, was published in 2014. He was named a 2015 Creative Capital Artist.

He is currently a Faculty Fellow at Colby College and has taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Amherst College, the International Center for Photography, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and conducted workshops in Lebanon, Jordan and Ethiopia.


This exhibition is made possible by Light Work. Light Work founded in Syracuse, NY, as an artist-run, non-profit organization in 1973. Its mission is to provide direct support through residencies, publications, exhibitions, a community-access digital lab facility, and other related projects to emerging and under-represented artists working in the media of photography and digital imaging.