Friday, October 29, 2010
SFMOMA's The Art of Looking 1: Exposed
Two huge, traveling photography exhibits are opening this Saturday at SFMOMA.
There was a press preview on Wednesday morning, complete with delicious refreshments that included a bacon clothesline.
On Thursday afternoon I published a two-part post about the exhibits but took them down for revision on Friday at the request of the p.r. department at SFMOMA. They asked me to do so because of possible copyright violations, admitting they had wanted to use several of the images I'd put in the earlier posts, but hadn't even received permission themselves. They were very apologetic and polite, but firm.
At the Asian Art Museum press previews, photography of traveling exhibits is encouraged to help boost attendance, and I'm not quite sure why that shouldn't be the case for SFMOMA in the twenty-first century. I don't think it's the museum's fault, by the way, but instead the copyright holders who want to absolutely control the distribution of imagery even though that horse is already out of the barn thanks to the internet. I understand wanting to make sure nobody is profiting off of one's work and imagery, but the images I am publishing on a noncommercial site are 400 pixels wide, which is completely useless for any form of reproduction.
SFMOMA's Sandra Phillips (above) co-curated "Exposed," which is on the fourth floor of the museum, with Simon Baker at London's Tate Museum, where this exhibit originated earlier this year, and Ms. Philipps confessed that the show is a bit "creepy."
According to the press release, "Exposed traces how voyeuristic observation with cameras in the 19th century influenced street photography in the 20th century...Exposed highlights five types of voyeuristic photographs: street photography; the sexually explicit pictures normally associated with voyeurism; celebrity stalking; photographs of death and violence; and surveillance in its many forms."
There is signage everywhere warning that this show probably shouldn't be seen by children, and for once they're not exaggerating.
From Nan Goldin's "Ballad of Sexual Dependency" (above) slide show to Larry Clark's obsession with teenage lust and Robert Mapplethorpe's fixation on black penis, there are a lot of sexually explicit images.
Much more disturbing, though, are the explicitly violent images, and most of them don't end happily like Enrique Metinides' 1971 "Suicide Rescue..." above.