Engagement with School Photos and Their Afterlives Exhibition

On view now through April 12, School Photos and Their Afterlives sets an array of school photos from across photography's histories and geographies in dialogue with works by contemporary artists who have reframed them. Co-curated by scholars and former Dartmouth faculty Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer, the exhibition looks critically at how a ubiquitous yet unremarked vernacular genre has been used to advance ideologies of assimilation and exclusion but also to inspire social and political change.

"[This exhibition] presents us with images that are initially recognizable, but that then allow us to think about complex issues of power, assimilation, resistance, and memory. They provide a sightline into fraught historical events, revealing the humanity beneath the institutional gaze," says Amelia Kahl, the Andrew W. Mellon Associate Curator of Academic Programming at the Hood Museum of Art. Kahl worked closely with Hirsch and Spitzer to install the exhibition.

Several public programs will accompany the show:

  • On February 6 at 4:45pm, photographer and human rights activist Marcelo Brodsky, whose work is featured in the exhibition, will deliver a lecture titled "Memory Works."
  • On February 12 at 12:30 pm, exhibition curators Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer will present a "Conversations and Connections" lunchtime gallery talk titled "What Do School Photos Do?"
  • On April 2-3, a symposium titled "Photography's Afterlives" will bring together artists, photo historians, curators, and theorists of visual culture to reflect on the afterlives of everyday vernacular images. For more information contact Gail.M.Patten@Dartmouth.edu in the Department of History, Dartmouth.

Additionally, a number of classes and campus groups have visited or will visit the exhibition, including Peter Orner's Intermediate Fiction class; Janice McCabe's two sociology classes: Education and Inequality and Youth and Society; and Prudence Merton's writing class The View from the Balcony: Learning How You Learn.

Make sure to visit the exhibition before it closes on April 12. Admission is free to all.

School Photos and Their Afterlives was curated by Marianne Hirsch, the William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and Professor in the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and Leo Spitzer, a cultural and comparative historian and writer working in the interdisciplinary field of memory studies and Kathe Tappe Vernon Professor of History Emeritus, Dartmouth College. This exhibition is organized by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, and is generously supported by the Charles Gilman Family Endowment.


Written January 31, 2020