What gives a photograph historical value? Does the original intent of the photographer matter, or is it the passage of time that counts? Is there meaning in the “fixing” of a transient image?
These questions are the foundation of “Change(less): Photography and the Ephemeral Made Permanent,” an exhibition presented by LSU Libraries Special Collections.
Put on in conjunction with the LSU Museum of Art’s exhibition “A Tale of Two Cities: Eugene Atget’s Paris and Berenice Abbott’s New York,” “Change(less)” is on display from May 14 through July 21, 2012, in the Lecture Hall in Hill Memorial Library.
“Change(less)” examines images of people and events from a variety of photographers, both professional and amateur, who share a command of the photographic technology of their day and an eye for a “good shot.” Images are paired to illustrate two photographers’ perspectives on one subject. The intent of the photographers – to document changes in modes of transportation, public holidays, material culture, or simply to record a visually interesting subject – is unknown. The ephemeral nature of the subjects juxtaposed against the semi-permanent aspect of the photographic medium inspires contemplation of both the roles of photographer intent and the passage of time in the categorization of photographs as historically significant documents.
The work of professional photographers Andrew and Howard Lytle of Baton Rouge’s Lytle Studio; Fonville Winans, of Fonville Studio, also of Baton Rouge, and; Henry and Earl Norman of the Norman Studio, of Natchez, is on display. Amateur photographers, such as those whose images make up the New Orleans Negative Exposures Collection, are also included.
The LSU Museum of Art’s exhibition, “A Tale of Two Cities,” showcases two 20th century photographers – Atget and Abbott – who intentionally documented their respective cities, fully aware of the magnitude of the forces of change already underway during their lifetimes. This exhibition will be on display at the LSU Museum of Art from May 20 – July 22, 2012. It was organized by the Syracuse University Art Galleries.
IMAGE: Canal Street from Robertson Street during the streetcar motormen and conductors strike, New Orleans, LA., 1929. From New Orleans Negative Exposures and Prints, LLMVC.