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"LAST CHANCE: Facts Showered with Light"
1999-05-02 until 2000-07-18
Museum of Photographic Arts
San Diego, CA,
USA United States of America
The photographic medium is a democratic one, extending importance and validity to everything that is pictured. Even the
fragments and inconsequential bits of information that find their way into the frame, along the edges and in the background,
are considered equally by the camera eye. The American poet Walt Whitman, writing in the early part of the 19th century,
was particularly taken by the new medium of photography and its potential to lend
significance to the ordinary. ...As they emit themselves, facts are showered with
light, he wrote, suggesting a certain luminescence, an understanding, that comes
with really seeing something clearly. This phrase could easily be extended to the
richly descriptive medium of photography, an image-making system suspended
between factual record and pure fiction.
Like the written word, the photograph fixes perfectly but translates poorly,
producing images altogether more luminous, more immense, more mesmerizing and
quixotic than what we might actually have seen or imagined. Within the frame of
the photograph all hierarchies are leveled, and a certain brutal and dear beauty
This exhibition considers the camera's unique means of translating the everyday
world. The assembled images, all drawn from MoPA's permanent collection,
represent a broad cross-section of 20th century photography and experience.
Rather than a concise, linear history of the medium, this grouping presents areas
of the collection's strength, featuring social documentary photography and
portraiture in some depth. Among the photographers featured are Berenice
Abbott, Linda Connor, Roy DeCarava, Andreas Feininger, John Gutmann, Lewis
Hine, Pok Chi Lau, Duane Michals, Nicholas Nixon, Robert ParkeHarrison,
Alexander Rodchenko and Aaron Siskind.