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A Field Guide to Photography and Media

From November 19, 2022 to April 10, 2023
A Field Guide to Photography and Media
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603
The Art Institute of Chicago has been exhibiting photography since 1900 and collecting it since 1949.

During that time—indeed, since its invention in the 19th century—photography has evolved into a diverse and unruly set of creative practices, both responding to and initiating changes across the world.

This exhibition celebrates that remarkable history through the Art Institute’s collection and offers an occasion to think anew about the photography’s place in the museum and in the world. Divided into eight sections, the presentation features more than 150 works that cut across time, space, and genre. Themes explored include production and circulation; engagements with identity, politics, and truth; the varied material forms of photography and media; the connections among these disciplines and other art forms; and relationships among artist, subject, and viewer. Reclassifying works in these contexts, the exhibition offers a roadmap for exploring the global, multivocal, and ever-evolving field.

This display—curated by Elizabeth Siegel, curator, Photography and Media—accompanies the museum’s first-ever publication to survey our photography collection, The Art Institute of Chicago Field Guide to Photography and Media. Set to be published in spring of 2023, the catalogue features nearly 400 works organized around 75 keywords and 75 thought-provoking essays responding to those keywords, written by artists, scholars, and curators working in the field today.

Support for this exhibition is provided by the Black Dog Fund. Publication of The Art Institute of Chicago Field Guide to Photography and Media has been made possible through the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation.

Image: Kenneth Josephson. Anissa (detail), 1969. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. © Kenneth Josephson.
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Exhibitions Closing Soon

Alex Hedison: A Brief Infinity
Von Lintel Gallery | Los Angeles, CA
From April 22, 2023 to June 10, 2023
Von Lintel Gallery is pleased to announce our second exhibition with photographer Alex Hedison, “A Brief Infinity”. Hedison is known for photography that brings attention to the ‘in between’ state. Previously, she focused on photographing exterior surfaces under construction that reflected the uncertainty of change. In 2020, with the isolation brought on by COVID-19, Hedison’s practice was interrupted. No longer able to travel to public spaces, she lost interest in picking up her camera which led her to improvise in the darkroom: ''I started experimenting with chemigrams; unlike traditional photography, chemigrams require nothing more than the interaction of chemicals and light on photographic paper. As I played with this process, I discovered that when black and white photo paper is given prolonged exposures to light, miraculous colors appear; bright hues alchemized, from pale pink to darker ruddy tones. Using clear packing tape, metallic paint, and varnish as forms of resistance, I began protecting the surface of the paper before submerging it into its chemical wash. I chose to photograph the chemigrams one instant to the next, making records in an abstract and shifting landscape. My intention paralleled what I consistently aim to do with my work: to chronicle the fleeting process of development. Each moment I photographed is a record of a transformation underway, a split-second in a state of flux brought into view within a single frame. I printed the images adding the silver metallic paint initially meant to block the chemical process from occurring. I used this same reflective material and painted directly onto the final photographic prints. My work is drawn from the in between, the unfolding experience between the knowable and uncertain, it is as brief as it is infinite.'' – Artist Alex Hedison
Margeaux Walter: Don’t Be a Square
From April 27, 2023 to June 10, 2023
Winston Wachter Fine Art, New York is excited to announce Don’t Be A Square, an exhibition of new works by photographer, Margeaux Walter. In this series, the artist expands on her signature style of creating environments that tread a fine line between fantasy and reality while taking a closer look at the natural world. Walter investigates the current period in history known as the Anthropocene age and how human activity has started to have a significant irreversible impact on the planet’s climate. In December of 2019, Margeaux Walter began this body of work during a two-week stay in California, and then continued the series in 2021 when she was awarded the Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency. She set out to explore the disconnection between humans and the landscapes around them. In each of the photographs, Walter constructs “a glitch in time”, as if humanity has camouflaged itself into the surrounding land, yet cannot find harmony. Each “glitch” is portrayed in the form of a square, a shape rarely found in nature, which can be interpreted as a pixel or cubicle. The artist sought out landscapes with depth and saturated in deep hues. She needed to capture the scenes at just the right time of day while using various props to stage each story and herself as the characters. In the image Backstage, a sunset of pinks and blues illuminate a rocky foreground. A pink curtain floats in the center of the image, parted just enough to allow the viewer to see a character dressed to match. The photograph, Nap, while it appears to be a still and calm scene, has someone drifting away on a lake in all blue clothing, lying in a matching inflatable couch. Margeaux Walter plays with the contrast between the striking landscapes and subtle human present imbedded in the image to create a surrealistic tableau. Her work pulls the viewer in, requiring more than a quick glance, to spark a second thought about the relationship humans have with the environment and the impact even little changes can make
Carla Jay Harris: Flight
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles | Los Angeles, CA
From April 29, 2023 to June 10, 2023
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to announce CARLA JAY HARRIS: Flight, an exhibition of new photo-based works, on view in Gallery 3 from April 29 through June 10, 2023. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, April 29th from 4 to 7 pm. Harris’ new works are a continuation of her series Celestial Bodies, begun in 2018. Celestial Bodies explores Harris’ multicultural background and a youth spent living primarily outside the United States. In her search for understanding and belonging she was drawn to stories of mythology, which have become a central theme throughout her work and tap into a sense of kinship. In Flight finds its inspiration in Black American folktales and has allowed Harris to make her work more personal with a deeper connection to her own history and ancestral memory. The first works in this series are inspired by the myths of the Flying African, based on old African folktales. The tales of the Flying African, often shared through oral traditions, spoke of enslaved Africans being lifted up and flying home through a magical passage over the ocean. These stories are filled with visual reminders of truth, freedom, and liberation; a secret language that spoke to those isolated and uprooted from their ancestral roots and removed from their native lands. Harris resonated with the powerful imagery of overcoming and transcending limits and was drawn to the unique overlaps with the themes within her own artistic practice. As a trained photographer and cinematographer, Carla Jay Harris uses art, poetry, and historical archives to inform her research and provide inspiration. Harris found joy and fulfillment through these stories in giving these oral traditions physical forms and highlighting histories too often forgotten. Her work is informed by her multidisciplinary practice and bringing together image making, storytelling, and cultural histories. Carla Jay Harris was born in Indianapolis, IN. She received her MFA from UCLA in 2015, a Bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of Virginia, and completed post- Baccalaureate studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Harris’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA; the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV; the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, CA; Museum of Fine Arts Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada; Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Denver, CO; the Southern, Charleston, SC; Moorpark Gallery, Moorpark College, Ventura, CA; Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY; and Paris Photo, Grand Palais Ephemere, Paris, France. She was awarded a 2020 residency at ACRE in Steuben, WI, and has been the beneficiary of several grants and fellowships, including the Hoyt Scholarship, Resnick Fellowship and a grant from the Pasadena Art Alliance. Harris’ works are included in the collections of USC Fischer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Art and History, Lancaster, CA; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA; Escalette Permanent Collection of Art at Chapman University, Orange, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Sherbrook, Quebec, Canada; Los Angeles County Public Art Collection, Los Angeles, CA; and numerous private collections. Carla Jay Harris lives and works in Los Angeles.
Marcia Resnick: As It Is or Could Be
Eastman Museum | Rochester, NY
From February 10, 2023 to June 11, 2023
Photographer Marcia Resnick earned recognition as part of the legendary Downtown New York art scene of the 1970s and 1980s with portraits of major cultural figures such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Belushi, and Susan Sontag. Marcia Resnick was one of the most ambitious and innovative American photographers of the 1970s. Combining social critique with poignant, often humorous performance, her photographs explore—in a conceptual vernacular—aesthetic, social, and political issues at once timely and timeless. A part of the now-mythic creative community in Downtown New York, she created work that challenged traditional ideas about what a photograph could be. This exhibition brings together for the first time her extraordinary photographs from this period. This exhibition was organized by the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the George Eastman Museum.
This Is Britain: Photographs from the 1970s and 1980s
National Gallery of Art | Washington, DC
From January 29, 2023 to June 11, 2023
Britain experienced profound changes in the 1970s and 1980s, when it was racked by deindustrialization, urban uprisings, the controversial policies of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Photography became a central form of creative expression during this period, supported and disseminated through new schools, galleries, artists’ collectives, magazines, and government funding. This Is Britain brings together the work of a generation of photographers who were commenting on the deep unrest of these pivotal decades. Vanley Burke, Pogus Caesar, Anna Fox, Paul Graham, Sunil Gupta, Chris Killip, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Martin Parr, and others pictured communities, traditions, and landscapes affected by Britain’s shifting social and economic realities. Together, they photographed a nation redefining what it meant to be British and, ultimately, modern. Image: © Pogus Caesar, Handsworth Riots: Birmingham, United Kingdom, September 1985, printed 2022, gelatin silver print, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund, © Pogus Caesar/OOM Gallery Archive, ARS, New York, DACS, London
Family Ties: Daguerreotype Portraits
National Portrait Gallery | Washington, DC
From July 01, 2022 to June 11, 2023
Within a decade of its introduction in 1839, the daguerreotype—the first commercially viable form of photography—emerged as a highly popular means of documenting family relationships. Affordable pricing fueled the popularity of the daguerreotype and technical innovations made it possible to produce successful images of multiple sitters. This paved the way for the boom in family portraiture. The portraits in this exhibition reflect the range of familial relationships documented by the camera during the daguerreian era. While they include nuclear family groups, they also speak to other meaningful family bonds— those shared by a young brother and sister; an aunt and a beloved niece; a young man and his father-in-law; a caring uncle and his nieces and nephews; and long-married couples.
Unstill Waters: Contemporary Photography from India
Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art | Washington, DC
From December 10, 2022 to June 11, 2023
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery | Gallery 22 Unstill Waters: Contemporary Photography from India  foregrounds landscapes of India, real and reimagined, as powerful means of examining environmental and social issues concerning us all. Through still and moving image, seriality, and portraiture, five leading contemporary artists explore rapidly changing natural and built environments in India, from riverbanks, ancient forests, and city streets to surreal symbolic settings. Ravi Agarwal and Atul Bhalla convey the profound importance of water in human life, highlighting enduring social and cultural connections to the sacred yet endangered Yamuna River. Gigi Scaria and Ketaki Sheth produce dynamic and disorienting portrayals of life in New Delhi and Mumbai. Sheba Chhachhi composes a provocative self-portrait that evokes a profound relationship to place as well as to her own focus on the representation of women in visual culture. Dynamic and varied in scale, format, and content, Unstill Waters also celebrates the spectacular recent gift of Sunanda and Umesh Gaur, which significantly expands the museum’s holdings of South Asian photography. Image: Yamuna Morning IV (detail), Atul Bhalla (b. 1964, India), 2007, Inkjet print on archival Hahnemüle paper, Gift of Drs. Umesh and Sunanda Gaur, S2019.6.6 © Atul Bhalla
Janelle Lynch: Another Way of Looking at Love
The Photographic Resource Center (PRC) | Boston, MA
From April 04, 2023 to June 12, 2023
We are delighted to host an exhibition of photographs by Janelle Lynch, on view in Lesley University’s , from April 4th through June 12th. The exhibition is running concurrently with her PRC Speaker Series presentation on April 20th at 6:30pm, which will be a hybrid event, in-person at University Hall and online via Zoom. to purchase tickets for the Speaker Series event. A post-event reception will be held at the gallery, and a public reception will be held the next evening, April 21st from 6-8pm. The exhibition features work from Janelle Lynch’s body of work, Another Way of Looking at Love (2015-2018). The series explores the interconnectedness of all life forms and supports a renewal of human relationships, and to the natural and the spiritual worlds. Of her work Lynch says, “For some images, I create points of connection with elements from the same species—Japanese barberry or burdock, for example—while for others, I combine multiple species, such as golden rod and pokeweed or burning bush and pine trees. Points of connection create spaces, which represent areas where new realities can be envisioned. The depiction of unity, together with color and light, show the beauty and magic of the natural world.” Another Way of Looking at Love follows Lynch’s belief that in our organic and spiritual essence, we are inextricably linked to each other and to Mother Nature. That we are hardwired for connection and our elemental sameness unites us and transcends our apparent differences. She captures images of nature to connect with each other and to the earth through wellness and the well-being of the world. The work is borne out of Lynch’s awe for the power of nature, and seeks to reimagine connections to one another, to the planet, and to the generative possibilities of the moment.
Jamel Shabazz: Albums
Gordon Parks Foundation | Pleasantville, NY
From April 27, 2023 to June 15, 2023
Jamel Shabazz is the 2022 recipient of The Gordon Parks Foundation / Steidl Book Prize Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Shabazz obtained his first camera in the mid-1970s and immediately began making portraits. His camera was also at his side while he worked as an officer at Rikers Island in the 1980s, where he made portraits of inmates that he later shared with their friends and family. Jamel Shabazz: Albums, the culminating publication of the 2022 Gordon Parks Foundation/Steidl book prize, features Shabazz’s albums, spanning the 1970s through 1990s. The exhibition will feature over a dozen of these albums, all shown for the first time. On the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan in the 1980s and 1990s, it would be easy to spot Jamel Shabazz, photographer. He would have a 35mm camera in hand or around his neck and carry a bag containing rolls of film, a chessboard, and several photo albums. Once he spotted possible subjects—individuals and groups he felt exuded coolness and pride, beauty and confidence, playfulness and warmth—the street would become his photo studio. He would introduce himself, “With all due respect, I’m a photographer,” his business card in hand. “When I look at you, I see greatness. If you don't mind, I'd like to take a photograph of you and your crew.” If there was any hesitation, he would take from his bag a photo album—the kind typically filled with family snapshots. Each album held portraits he had previously taken on the same streets, arranged according to categories Shabazz identified, such as location, number of participants, gender, style, and pose. Within seconds, he was turning the pages of the album to images that he hoped would conjure feelings of identification, empowerment, and even competition for the people he encountered—the act of partaking in Shabazz’s photo shoot encouraged self-expression and spoke of self-determination, influence, strength, style, and attitude. The people he met would want their photograph in his albums; appearing there transformed them from seeing to being seen, from audience to tastemakers. His photograph would be of them and for them. Once Shabazz gained the trust of his subjects, over the course of a few minutes they would collaboratively choreograph the portrait composition, with the street as backdrop. Their chosen poses and expressions were a form of call and response between the subjects and what they had just seen pictured in the albums—the images sparked a desire to emulate, outdo, or declare affiliation. Hesitation was common among Shabazz’s would-be subjects, but, as he later said, “I had to stop them and get their attention, and the albums did it. if I didn’t have my albums they would probably keep moving.” His request that people pose for a photograph implied admiration of a particular style or attitude, but the promise of including the photograph in one of his albums would reinforce, and validate that style or attitude. The final photograph was not only evidence of that exchange, but also recognition of their freedom to present themselves as they wanted to be seen. After several interactions, Shabazz took the completed rolls of film to a one-hour photo shop in Chinatown that would provide two prints of each image. Once the prints were ready, within hours or days he would return to the location of the shoot, find his subjects, and give them a copy of their photograph. Shabazz kept the other copy, eventually finding a place for it in one of his albums. The photograph would be circulated and displayed, and shown to future subjects.
Liz Nielsen Romanticist
Danziger Gallery Los Angeles | Los Angeles, CA
From April 29, 2023 to June 17, 2023
Danziger Gallery is pleased to announce our third exhibition of photograms by Liz Nielsen and our first show of her work in Los Angeles. The show will open on April 29th and run through June 17th. Nielsen’s work joins and adds to the historical tradition of the photogram – one of the medium’s earliest processes – and one of increasing interest in the world of contemporary art and color photography. Simply described, a photogram is an image created without a camera by placing objects or shining light directly onto photographic paper and developing the paper. Each picture is by nature unique - a record of the moment or event created by the artist. To make her pictures, Nielsen begins by drawing out her imagery. She then builds a complex system of layers, like a printmaker, that allows her to control where, when, and in what order light touches the paper. This gives her the freedom to essentially paint onto the paper in broad to narrow strokes and in an endless variety of colors. In the darkroom Nielsen’s innovations take on a performative nature as every picture has to be completed in one session which can take as much as a whole day to complete. When finished, the paper is rolled into a light proof container and then developed in the same way as any color print. In Nielsen’s words: “The analog color darkroom is a magical place where a pitch-black environment allows only the vision of the mind’s eye. I enjoy working in this way because everything is variable. In my current work, there is a focus on achieving transcendence through abstraction. I seek out shapes and symbols, looking for mathematical connections that give order to disorder. The images that I create are compositions of these collected shapes, placed strategically in alignment with the cosmos - places for collective consciousness to emerge.” Deeply interested in expanding the boundaries of the photographic medium, Nielsen’s vibrant and luminous abstractions transform preconceived notions of traditional photography. Influenced by her philosophical studies, knowledge of the physics of light, and color theory, she uses photography to investigate visual cognition. Nielsen is fascinated by light because it is both tangible and ethereal—it surrounds us, and as she says, “it has the incredible power to shape space, infuse emotions, and transcend time.”
Robin Coste Lewis: Intimacy
Marian Goodman Gallery | New York, NY
From May 06, 2023 to June 24, 2023
Marian Goodman Gallery New York is delighted to present Intimacy, a moving-image and sound film by Robin Coste Lewis that will be presented in our Third Floor Gallery, from 6 May - 24 June 2023. A single-channel video projection with sound, the installation features projected images derived from a selection of 66 photographs representing a modern 20th-Century photographic archive depicting the Lewis family and their friends. The trove of portraits, discovered by Lewis approximately 25 years ago in the home of her maternal grandmother, Dorothy Mary Coste Thomas Brooks, are sepia, tintypes, color and black-and-white pictures that recount the history of the Lewis family and circle.. The Lewis family, along with millions of other Americans, fled the Southern States of America in the 20th Century as part of the Great Migration west, in search of a place devoid of racism, injustice, and white terrorism. With the upheaval of forced migration, and concomitant scattering of a family unit and dispersal of possessions, the existence of this deep collection of photographic images represents a distinctive vernacular collection, especially notable for its volume, rarity and joyful, private sentiment.. Through graduations, birthdays, weddings, recreational and holiday gatherings, the pictures play with with depiction and the notion of lineage. On the one hand, the photographs in Intimacy gives the viewer the illusion of charting this American family and their significance within the context of Black history. The photographs denote resilience and resistance to the profound historical enmity that surrounded them through the celebratory nature of the moments encapsulated on film.. However, the sound element of the installation, which features the voice of Lewis, diverges from the intense nostalgia evoked by the photographs. In both deliberate syncopation and pauses, Lewis reads her existentialist lyric poem titled Intimacy (for Julie) Part 2. The entrancing and moving reading of approximately 24 minutes, serves as an homage to the multitude of Diasporas human beings have created over millenia––and the central roles Black people have played within this enduring history. As such, the soundtrack relocates Blackness within the history of the universe and human evolution.. The poem and the resulting composite installation stems from a political and aesthetic friendship between Lewis and Julie Mehretu, which grew over decades, the outcome of a continuing conversation between the two who met as graduate students during the heady 90's through shared studies of post-colonial theory, queer studies, and critical race theory. Intimacy mediates on their mutual interest in language, the history of time, mark-making, human migrations, desire and the abstract. The installation in our New York space follows on the premiere of the work at Galerie Marian Goodman, Paris, in 2022, and more recent screenings and conversations at MoMA and LACMA. The Paris presentation highlighted a poignant aspect of Lewis’ heritage, given that her Great Grandmother, who was French, had emigrated to the former French colony of Louisiana, now US. Intimacy therefore traces the lineage of descendants of the survivors of French colonialism in Louisiana, a defiant answer to the destructive nature and intention of colonialism.. Archive of Desire, a series of multimedia performances celebrating the poet C.P. Cavafy featuring Robin Coste Lewis, Vijay Iyer and Jeff Ziegler, and Julie Mehretu will take place at National Sawdust in Brooklyn on 3 and 4 May 2023. The event was created for a weeklong festival to be held courtesy of the Onassis Foundation.
Native America: In Translation
Milwaukee Art Museum | Milwaukee, WI
From February 24, 2023 to June 25, 2023
In Native America: In Translation, 10 artists consider Indigenous histories, cultures, and representation through a contemporary lens. Photography, a medium historically used to suppress and stereotype Native cultures, is reclaimed by these artists, who are, in the words of the curator Wendy Red Star, “opening up space in the art world for new ways of seeing and thinking.” The exhibition highlights the featured artists’ perspectives on community, identity, heritage, and the legacy of colonialism on the American continents. Among them, Martine Gutierrez used the fashion magazine format to question the social construction of identity in her work Indigenous Woman. In nindinawemaganidog (all my relations), Rebecca Belmore combined symbolic elements from her past performance works to call attention to violence perpetrated by governments against Native people. And in photographs unique to the Milwaukee Art Museum’s presentation, Tom Jones beaded portraits of people from his community with patterns referencing their Ho-Chunk cultural traditions. Also featured in the exhibition are Nalikutaar Jacqueline Cleveland, Koyoltzintli, Duane Linklater, Guadalupe Maravilla, Kimowan Metchewais, Alan Michelson, and Marianne Nicolson. All 10 artists represent various Native nations and affiliations throughout what is now called North America, including Cold Lake First Nations, Ho-Chunk Nation, Lac Seul First Nation, Musgamakw Dzawada'enuxw First Nations, Native Village of Kwinhagak Tribal Government, and Six Nations of the Grand River. Native America: In Translation is curated by Wendy Red Star, an Apsáalooke artist whose work was included in the Museum’s recent exhibition On Repeat: Serial Photography. Native America: In Translation is organized by Aperture and was developed from the Fall 2020 issue of Aperture magazine guest edited by Red Star. The Native Initiatives Advisory Group at the Museum was instrumental in helping develop the programs we are offering in conjunction with this exhibition.
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