For today’s Summer Session topic of celebrity, we bring you Genevieve Quick’s review from our sister publication Art Practical of the 2010 SFMOMA exhibition Exposed, a show on the history of photography and the camera. Our contemporary fascination with celebrities is heavily shaped by the photographic medium, and Exposed explored some of the earliest iterations of the iconic paparazzi shot that is a quintessentially celebrity experience. This review was originally published on December 10, 2010.
Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870, at SFMOMA, is an ambitious exhibition that examines 140 years of photography through five categories: “The Unseen Photographer,” “Voyeurism and Desire,” “Celebrity and the Public Gaze,” “Witnessing Violence,” and “Surveillance.” The exhibition cites 1871, the year the gelatin dry plate was invented, as the onset of the modern photographic era. This development was shortly followed by the emergence of micro cameras small enough to be concealed in unassuming objects of everyday life, such as a shoe or cane. In addition to exploring the power dynamics and privacy issues of voyeurism and surveillance, the exhibition raises questions about a visitor’s relationships to the photograph, viewing, and the socio-historic context in which the images were made and the ways they are viewed today.