Lecture 3: Photography and the Wall: A Modern Story?

Photography Exhibited

Not so much about the subject matter, but photograph as an object (object and image).

  • Exhibitions began almost as soon as it was invented.

Hippolyte Bayard 1839

  • Didn’t know how they were being presented (put on board).
  • Medium as art and documentation of art.
  • Did it as a fundraiser. First campaigning show/charity work?

Fox Talbot

  • Birmingham (first in Britain).
  • Mat Collishaw recreating Talbot using visual reality. Photo London.
  • 1850s – more photography clubs, associations.

First image of photography exhibition

  • They fit as many photographs on a wall as possible.
  • Sunlight came from ceiling.
  • Catalogue was a list of the images shown.
  • Stereoscope’s on the tables (was a craze).
  • The Victoria and Albert museum bought many of the photographs. Displayed the photographs and stereoscopes.

Woodcut illustration

  • Portrait studio
  • Middle class have their portraits taken.
  • Images of what you could have.

Photography as a ‘universal archive’ of the democratic.

  • Film und Foto – first international exhibition.
  • Photography connected to cinema than modern painting.
  • Not many installation images.
  • Lots of different photography in the show (scientific/fine art).
  • Not just art medium but mass medium.
  • Space to bring together all kinds of photography.


  • Requiring prints of certain sizes.
  • Film and cinema, hard to display in an exhibition, would show them in local cinemas.
  • Built black boxes for viewing the films within the exhibition.
  • Sequence of film stills.
  • Restaged many times.

Road to Victory (MoMA)

  • Americas involvement in WWII.
  • Socially engaged photographers work.
  • Displays related to magazine design.

The Family of Man

  • Different kit frames. Can be adjusted to different spaces.
  • East/west tension. All the same, trying to avoid politics.

Family Groups

  • Chateau (BBC series)
  • Photographers not happy with how their images were shown – aid visual argument on humanity.
  • View as part of social group.
  • Threat and promise at end of show (explosion and UW)

The Family of Man was the most visited exhibition.

  • Parallels between magazine layout and other ways of presented (book and film).
  • Audience overwhelmed by it – way images were put together.
  • Photographers not happy about this – didn’t know how they were going to be used.

“Public photographic spaces”

“As Jorge…”

“By the 1960s…”

Suspicion of images as mass manipulation.

Establishing popular opinion.

Robert Rauschenberg

  • Doesn’t quite add up, make your own mind up.

Andy Warhol

  • Produced by FBI pamphlet.
  • Not for the public in very public space.
  • Warhol took it down within 24 hours.
  • Only known photograph of work.

Seth Seigelaub

  • What is an exhibition/catalogue without one another? See the catalogue but not the show.
  • All you see is the catalogue on the table.


One to one: Image has to be the same size as what it’s of.

Victor Burgin – (path in B&W)

  • Work has instructions. Proportions, can be made any size.
  • ICA, being installed, can only be shown in gallery it’s installed in. Has to go and install himself.
  • Art institute – Invited him to present the work, but insisted their technicians could do it, but didn’t do it correctly.
  • Due to it being new flooring panels, the sun changed the colour of them, apart from the section covered by Burgin’s work and is now permanently there.
  • Never been shown again.

Harry ?

  • Picture of part of museum, displayed in secret.

Mason Williams

  • Life size photograph of a bus. Can be folded into a box.


Michael Fried

  • “In why photography…”
  • Photographs wanted to make them specific to gallery size.
  • Things represented in the correct way if you stand in the correct place.
  • “Fried suggests…” “But it was not only scale…”

Andreas Gursky

Main influence Jeff Wall – most ambitious.

Jell Wall

  • Life scale, not ‘big’.
  • Viewing distance and distance between camera and subject.
  • ‘The Story Teller’
  • Different viewing experiences.
  • Not all large, just correct size (life scale).
  • Monet – Courtaud Gallery, London, positioned too high, should be eye height.

Jeff Walls First catalogue, how it was installed and influences. Size and light box written in catalogue, to show how it was presented. Only page reproduction shown.

(Jeff Wall ‘Picture for Women)


  • Number of different formats.
  • ‘Men Waiting’ waiting for work (cash in hand, called cash corners).
  • Told them he was taking their picture, but didn’t like the corner they were on.
  • Paid them their morning rate, took them to a different corner.
  • Photograph was shown the same size it they would be if you were on the opposite corner.

Work in different contexts, functions in different ways.

Hannah Collins

  • Different kinds of scale since 80s.
  • 5×4 fibre based paper.
  • Trimming in gallery and nailed to the wall (like curtains).
  • House size piece, all her own prints at this time.

Large scale photographic prints.

Exhibited in colour. Hand coloured black and white image 100 years ago.

Between Photography and Sculpture

George Blakely

  • Youth worked at Disneyland ‘cubic foot photographs.

George Rousse

  • Photographic print, painted the space.
  • Used a slid projector on the space, traced it out and painted.
  • Replaced the projector with the camera to make sure it was in the correct place.

Between Page and Wall

Gallery 29

  • Stieglitz ‘Camera Work’
  • To establish photography, serious publication as well as exhibition space.

Kelly Lyran

  • Restaged it based on photograph, everything was black and white and shot at the same angle as Stieglitz.

Robert Frank

  • The Americans – made for the page.
  • No benefit looking at work on the wall as it was made to be a book.

Richard Avedon

  • Page based on photograph.
  • Moved to exhibitions (commissioned work).
  • American West – informal way of exhibiting.

Rinko Kawauchi

  • 10-15 years’ worth of book projects (books taken more seriously in Japan).
  • Natural infinity with the page.
  • Offered to exhibit, not very good at it.

Roni Horn

  • Gallery and books.
  • You are the Weather every day for a moth, only change the weather.
  • Book – roughly the size of your own face, very intimate.
  • Gallery – shown in the same size.
  • Same project in different ways, presents sections of different days.

Wolfgang Tillman

  • (all different prints on slide) Serpentine Gallery.
  • ‘Swarm’ intelligence – David Evans.

Fiona Tan

  • Different countries/cities, invites people to send in family albums. City portrait.
  • Framed (domestic scale) size (6×4) average size for albums.


  • Checked baggage
  • Every item confiscated over 24-hour period.
  • As many copies of the book as there were confiscated items.
  • Heightened security.
  • Simple was of displaying.

Sophie Ristelhauber

  • Oil fields, traces of things left behind.
  • Small book, can’t tell the scale of the image.



  • ‘Daily exhaustion’ Pictures after the gym. Zine given away for free.
  • Background same as t-shirt.
  • Taking down of the installation – next shows work.

Networks, the electronic image and exhibition

  • Exhibition – away from culture, reflect how images work there. Electronics not replacing.
  • The media wall at The Photographers gallery. Dedicated curator of digital/wed specifics. Screen related to world of the internet.

Erik Kessels

  • Prints of every image uploaded to Flickr in a day.
  • Making them material objects.

Jules Spinatsch

  • 24-hours panorama. Live linked to gallery in Switzerland. Send and printed out. Growing gallery space 24 hours in completely different country.

Range of exploration, photography doesn’t have a surface. Never fixed way of showing photography, no standard way. Presentation affects the work. Paper, sequence, ink all contributes.

Essential reading:

Boris Groys, ‘Politics of Installation’ http://www.e-flux.com/journal/02/68504/politics-of-installation/


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