Janna Adelstein, ’15
As photography becomes accessible to an increasing number of people around the world, in order for a photo to be praised, it needs to be incredibly unique. Nowadays, anyone can take a good picture of a flower with just their iPhone, which is why it is becoming critical for people truly passionate about photography to find something the world hasn’t yet seen, and capture it. MoMa’s new exhibit, New Photography 2013 (running from September 14th 2013- January 6th 2014) is an exhibit that captures the hunger of photographers who are yearning to stand out, and who want to show that their passion will shock the viewer.
The exhibit features pieces from eight different artists who are internationally acclaimed for their work. Among these artists are a team: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. Some of the pieces featured in this exhibit are from their series War Primer, which is a series of photographs focused on the War in Iraq, and particularly how the White House dealt with it. One of their photographs, labeled as Plate 10 from War Primer Two, 2011, is an image of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and several other Presidential advisors in the White House Situation Room. On the top and bottom of the photograph there are black and white images that, for me, appear to be depicting the aftermath of war. An image like this makes me reflect on our nation’s position in the world, and how our country’s politics can be a target for terrorists.
Other artists featured in the exhibit include Anna Ostoya, who mixes photography (a set of eyes, for example) with mixed media (gold leaf and newspaper). Lisa Oppenheim’s piece Man holding large camera photographing a cataclysmic event, possibly a volcano erupting, is a series of four photographs taken from what seem to be different lenses.
Both of these photographs are left up to the viewer’s interpretation. A common theme throughout the exhibit appears to be that the message is in the eye of the beholder, giving each photograph its own individuality for every single person who lays eyes on it.
One characteristic of truly excellent photography is that it inspires self-contemplation in the viewer. In this exhibit, the photographers have captured regular experiences, and by capturing these experiences, made them unique. Check out MoMa’s New Photography 2013 to feel the true power of contemporary photography.