capturing secret moments in the age of surveillance

Andy Warhol, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Cindy Sherman explore identity and technology in Public, Private, Secret: the International Center of Photography's first exhibition in its new home on the Bowery.

by Hannah Ongley
23 June 2016, 8:55pm

Merry Alpern, Dirty Windows Series #19, 1994, International Center of Photography, Gift of David and Kim Schrader, 2010. © Merry Alpern

The International Center of Photography opens its new space on the Bowery today with an exhibition exploring what privacy means in 2016. Public, Private, Secret incorporates works from photography heavyweights plus a fresh new wave of provocative thinkers working across different mediums. Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Andy Warhol, and Henri Cartier-Bresson will be joined by minoritarian political artist Zach Blas, whose work dissects themes including technology and queerness, and Martine Symes, a former graphic designer-turned-conceptual entrepreneur who delves into Afrofuturism, queer theory, and the power of language. Creepy surveillance art and voyeuristic images from Jill Magid and Merry Alpern will also be shown. Alpern's Dirty Windows photos were secretly taken through the bathroom window of a cheap sex club near Lower Manhattan's Wall Street, capturing — as you might imagine — a host of illicit activities. Brooklyn-based Natalie Bookchin will also present a one-minute video titled My Meds, a series of collective self-portraits made from found online video diaries meditating on topics such as unemployment and sexual identity.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 1979, International Center of Photography, Gift of Photographers + Friends United Against AIDS, 1998. © Cindy Sherman, courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

"ICP's mission has always been to examine how images impact and influence social change, which is particularly critical now that mobile devices and social networks have made us all image-makers," says Mark Lubell, ICP's Executive Director. "Images are now produced and exchanged by millions of people globally to communicate complex ideas about everything from urban policing to self-identity."

The museum's new home on the Bowery is the perfect space for this prying exhibition, fronted by giant glass windows allowing visibility and access from the street. Curator-in-residence Charlotte Cotton says the new fit-out enables the ICP to "rethink our curatorial practices and respond to our contemporary image environment in new ways. Public, Private, Secret's non-hierarchical organization allows for dialogue between and about the diversity of photographic and visual culture in a wholly unique and unexpected way."

Andrew Hammerand, The New Town, 2013. © Andrew Hammerand

Jill Magid, Trust (video still), from Evidence Locker, 2004. © Jill Magid

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, The Revolutionary, from Spirit Is a Bone, 2013. Courtesy the artists. © Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

Natalie Bookchin, My Meds, from the Testament series, 2009. © Natalie Bookchin

Public, Private, Secret runs from June 23 through January 8, 2016 at ICP.


Text Hannah Ongley
Images courtesy of the International Center of Photography

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