Anonymous: The Fractured Histories of Found Photographs

June 11 – August 29, 2015

Curated by Peggy Levison Nolan

Dina Mitrani Gallery is pleased to present this unique exhibition of found photographs, dating from the early 1900s and ranging from tin-types, to polaroids, slides and family albums. The photographs, once treasured, were left behind or discarded and found and collected by the artist and curator. The exhibition also includes work on loan from the collections of Kevin Arrow, Francie Bishop Good, Gloria O’Connell, Ivan Santiago, Augusto Mendoza, Pip and Duane Brant, George Valcarse, Abner Nolan. The show will be on view through August 29th.

This collection of found pictures is both curious and recognizable. Film-based photos arrive with much surprise and disappointment as they are made through a developing process and never indicated on the back of the camera. The collaboration between the photographer and subject is less sure and more hopeful. The results, many unfocused and filled with formally unnecessary elements, are collected and appreciated, spared the harsh critique of the art world. The fortuitous accidents created by camera “mistakes” give many of these images a heightened sense of artifice and nostalgia. The photographs assume the role of abstracted symbols of life lived and enjoyed, and imply innocence of the future.

And now they have found their way into an art gallery, taking on the added weight of irony and conjecture. Their original makers have been forgotten, authorship assumed by the images’ collectors. How are we, smart phones comfortably available on our persons, to understand the smile of a proper gentleman posed before a photographer hidden behind a black cloth? How do we see a couple dressed in the laughable outfits of the 1970’s smiling on a cruise ship deck? Perhaps with relief, the pressure of creative ownership lifted, the experience of looking, filled with mistaken omnipotence.

- Peggy Levison Nolan, Curator