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Exhibition explores photographs as constantly shifting records of culture, history, and meaning
Pablo Ortiz Monasterio (born 1952, Mexico City; lives and works in Mexico City), D.F., 1987. Gelatin silver print, 30.5 x 45.7 cm. Courtesy of the artist © Pablo Ortiz Monasterio.
PRINCETON, NJ.- From its inception, photography has been about the circulation and exchange of images. Because of this incessant movement, the meaning and cultural relevance of a photographic image changes constantly. Through approximately 85 photographs from public and private collections in Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States, The Itinerant Languages of Photography explores the movement of photographs across time and space, and different media, offering a more diverse transnational history of photography.

On view at the Princeton University Art Museum from Sept. 7, 2013 through Jan. 19, 2014, The Itinerant Languages of Photography traces historical modes of photographic itinerancy from its origins in the 19th century as a shifting archival record to its conceptualist manifestations in the present–featuring artists such as Marc Ferrez, Manuel and Lola Alvarez Bravo, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Joan Colom, Graciela Iturbide, Susan Meiselas, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Joan Fontcuberta, and Rosângela Rennó.

“In this era of perpetual digital photographic production, dissemination and consumption, it is critical to step back and examine the nature and history of image making,” said Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward. “This exhibition asks us to consider the photograph as a globally transmitted, continually translated and annotated document—reinterpreted and re-animated through the lens of our shared histories, memories, and experiences.”

The exhibition takes its point of departure from the idea that photography, as a set of practices and a technological artifact, resists being fixed in place—that the photograph comes into being only after it has been reproduced and displaced. Tracing historical forms of traffic and displacement in photography from its origins in the 19th century to the present, the exhibition is divided into four sections: the Brazilian Empire of Don Pedro II; the Mexican Revolution and its aftermath; street photography from Spain and Latin America; and more experimental interventions involving historical and contemporary photographic technologies. Each section considers an aspect of photographic movement through particular profiled collections and seeks to speak to the others across time and cultures.

Co-curated by Princeton University professors Eduardo Cadava (Department of English, Program in Media and Modernity, Program in Latin American Studies) and Gabriela Nouzeilles (Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures, Program in Latin American Studies), the exhibition is the culmination of a three-year interdisciplinary project sponsored by the Princeton Council for International Teaching and Research and a collaboration between the Princeton University Art Museum, the Fundación Foto Colectania in Barcelona, the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil, the Instituto Moreira Salles in Rio de Janeiro, and the Fototeca Nacional del INAH in Mexico City.

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