Walead Beshty

"Picture Industry" at CCS Bard Hessel Museum of Art

June 24 – December 15, 2017

Curated by artist Walead Beshty, Picture Industry reflects upon transformations in the production and distribution of photographic images as realized through its varied constructions of the corporeal, from its origin as scientific tool and a means of cultural investigation to its phenomenological effects on a viewer. Methodologically, the exhibition complicates traditional accounts of the medium, drawing from its application within science and the humanities to contemporary art, and includes artworks and images by over 70 artists and photographic practitioners spanning the late 19th century to the present. The exhibition posits a provisional, alternative history of the optical image, breaking with both the technologically deterministic approach of aesthetic formalism, and the semiotic fixations of post-modernism, and from this basis reflects anew on the contemporary condition of image production. The materials that constitute the exhibition (including collections of photographs, slide projections, periodicals, recent film and video installations, sculptures, and printed works on paper) create numerous situations within which to consider not only the materiality of images and the technologies that form their reception, but also the conflicted social history that lies under their surfaces and is inextricable from their origins. To this end, Picture Industry includes images and objects from a number of historical moments and social arenas arranged into a cohesive but varied array of historical positions, which prefigure our complex contemporary image world.


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