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Presented by BFA Photography and Video

Picture Library

November 21 - December 12
A photo book stands against a white background, with its title "The Passengers | NYC" in black type below a photograph of a person in the subway looking at the viewer.
Credit: Mengmeng Ma

School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents “Picture Library,” a virtual exhibition of the BFA Photography and Video class of 2020’s Senior Books and accompanying materials, including the texts and artist books that have inspired their work. Organized in collaboration with the SVA Library, the exhibition will be on view online from Saturday, November 21, through Saturday, December 12, at galleries.sva.edu.

 

Alumni from the class of 2020 featured in this exhibition are Sambit Biswas, Rachael Cho, Razan Elbaba, Sara Falco, Edward Gia, Amina Gingold, Shangyu Li, Tiger Ling, Mengmeng Ma, Lily Matwijeczko, Olivia Olsen, Megan Overton, Kecheng Pan, Keara Saunders, Heather Suarez, Qing Zhai and Huaiyu Zhang. Their work is inspired by celebrated artists, including Sophie Calle, Tracey Emin, Walker Evans,​ Joseph Kosuth, ​Barbara Kruger,​ ​Hiroshi Sugimoto,​ ​Wolfgang Tillmans​ and ​David Wojnarowicz.

 

BFA Photography and Video Chair Joseph Maida writes:

 

In celebration of the photography book and the books created by SVA’s BFA Photography and Video Department’s graduating class of 2020, the department invited alumni to pair their own books, made at the end of senior year, with renowned books culled from the SVA Library, which have inspired their practice in some way. The selection of library books are as diverse as the books created by these alumni, offering a reminder of the invaluable resource that libraries provide to ensure an education not just in art and history, but specifically in books of photographs. In the age of the Internet, smartphones and information-on-demand, photography books continue to carry a distinctive value in their physicality, their edits and their sequences.

 

In looking at the books from the class of 2020 in tandem with the books that have inspired them, we encourage viewers to think about the past’s relationship to the future, particularly as you consider the history of the photography book and our recent graduates’ contributions to the continuum of the medium as it operates in this important format.

 

The book has been a vehicle for the circulation of photographic images since the medium’s invention, and it’s impossible to talk about photography’s history without discussing books. This includes the first self-published photography book, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843), by Anna Atkins, as well as the first commercially published photographically illustrated book, The Pencil of Nature (1844), by William Henry Fox Talbot. The list of memorable photography books is long and as varied as the photographers you might find on it, often including classics like Walker Evans’ American Photographs (1938), Robert Frank’s The Americans (1958), Eikoh Hosoe’s Barakei (1985), Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1986) and Deborah Willis’ Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present (2002).

Free and open to the public