Camera Obscured: photographic documentation and the public museum
1997 • page 1 of 2



(click on images to enlarge)

1.exhibition announcement

2. installation

3. installation view

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Project description: Camera Obscured

Camera Obscured originated in research I was doing in the archives of public museums in the early 1990s and, as an exhibition, was commissioned by the Photographers Gallery, London, England and first shown there in 1997. This exhibition was the first to bring together for consideration examples of the photographic documentation produced by an international range of museums of their own institutional activities. The 88 photographs in the exhibition covered a time span approx. from the 1850s to the 1960s, a period when the large format camera was in almost exclusive use in museum photo studios.



The exhibition suggests an unexplored history of the relationship between photography and the public museum, two inventions that came into their own in the 19th century and have been central to discussion of issues of representation in our time. The public museum is situated as an historical artefact and revealed as having a rich social history through the examination of its own photographs.

The exhibition was first shown at the Photographers Gallery, London in May, 1997 and continued to tour to Sweden, Canada and Germany where it concluded its tour in 2004 at the Sprengel Museum, Hannover. A book related to this exhibition is in the planning stages currently.

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