Whether reflecting the visible world or an artist’s interior thoughts, the contemporary photograph actively participates in almost all aspects of modern life. This exhibition demonstrates the photographic medium’s ability to encompass a dizzying range of reactions to social change, political unrest, new technologies, and cultural confusion and upheaval.
Artists have long used the camera to both record and react to current events, but many contemporary practitioners push the conventional understanding of the photograph as marker of truth or reality, applying nontraditional viewpoints—both compositional and conceptual—to their work. Cutting-edge digital capabilities play a critical role in these expressions, as artists use new means to explore and question the influence of technology on modern society. Among other works from the permanent collection, Ben Buswell’s sculptural exploration of the self, Richard Mosse’s psychedelic take on documentary war reportage, and Penelope Umbrico’s iPhone charting of mountains in nature and popular reproductions demonstrate the rich expressive potential of the contemporary photographic image.
Organized by the Portland Art Museum and curated by Julia Dolan, Ph.D., The Minor White Curator of Photography.