The click of a camera’s shutter — often lasting no more than a second — preserves a moment in time. A new exhibition, however, demonstrates how that moment may be stretched out, spanning centuries, in some cases, or expanding exposure times to hours or days in certain works.
The images in “The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art” — one of three shows this year celebrating the 25-year anniversary of the museum’s photography department — take a variety of approaches that play with our perception of time and memory.
By featuring such archaic photographic methods
as the daguerreotype or by reusing old images with new technology, the artists in the show create a deeper and more complex investigation of photography than
merely freezing time.
We took a numerical approach:
Number of works in the exhibition, all acquired with the assistance of the Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund, and all being shown here for the first time.
Number of sections in the exhibition: “Traces of History,” “Time Exposed,” “Memory and Archive,” “Framing Time and Place” and “Contemporary Ruins.”
Span of years over which works in the show were created.
Number of 15 x 13
Number of daguerreotypes in the show, by Chuck Close, Binh Danh and Adam Fuss.
Number of years between the 1864 image of the Taj Mahal by John Murray and the digitally manipulated daguerreotype print of it made by Adam Fuss in 2012
Days of exposure on photographic paper from a camera obscura to create Vera Lutter’s “Ca’ del Duca Sforza, Venice II: Jan. 13-14, 2008.”
Number of years between the original negatives used by Linda Connor in her “July 23, 1903, 2002,” and the gelatin silver print the artist made from them.
Years that Susan Meiselas tracked the growth of a 1979 Nicaraguan photograph that become a revolutionary icon in her installation, “Molotov Man, 1979-2009.”
Number of early-20th-century African American female performers depicted in Carrie Mae Weems’ 2010 work, “Slow Fade to Black II,” denoting their dissolution into cultural obscurity.
Pennies in various states of decay and dust depicted in Moyra Davey’s series “Copperhead.”
Photographs of recently constructed homes that have become ruins in the desert of Southern California’s Antelope Valley that are part of Mark Ruwedel’s series “Dusk.”
Width, in inches, of Christian Marclay’s 2009 cyanotype depicting unspooled cassette tapes, “Allover (A Gospel Reunion)”
Exhibitions celebrating the 25th anniversary of the National Gallery of Art’s photography collection. “In Light of the Past” is on display through July 26. “Recent Gifts” opens Nov. 1.
Number of works in the National Gallery of Art’s photography collection.
Catlin is a freelance writer.
The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art Through Sept. 13 at the National Gallery of Art, Constitution Avenue and Sixth Street NW. 202-737-4215. www.nga.gov.