I’ve come across a few visitor’s register books in the files from the 1980s and 1990s (visitors wrote their name, where they hailed from, and any comments about the show.) I began perusing the register for the 1989 show Recaption/Recontext, featuring photographs from the Cray Research/Film in the Cities collection. The show was curated by photographer Vince Leo, who paired each photograph with a quotation about photography from a variety of sources, thus “recaptioning and recontextualizing” the images. In the catalog, Leo states his general aim is “to agitate against or puncture what we usually think about these photographs in particular, or about photography in general; to open gaps in interpretation instead of closing them.”
Some of the comments in the visitor’s register book about this show caught my eye:
- Took me back home.
- Gave me hope.
- It’s nice to know photography is not dead.
- It’s bare! But wow!
- Why are the two pictures pertianing to black people “lent by the artist” and not owned in the collection?
- I loved the variety. Some photographs leave me entranced and with the need to see more.
- Deep! / Intense
- Illuminating a wonderful example of the power of context!
- I agree – do whatever you must to get your point across – nothing is sacred.
And my favorite comment was simply: “Art?”
Areca Roe is a MFA graduate from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Art, with a concentration in photography and minor in Museum Studies. Areca completed her project involvement in Fall 2011, and has subsequently been involved with the University as an artist in residence at the University’s Bell Museum of Natural History.