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The Rooms

February 15, 2008

“Immerse yourself in our culture at Newfoundland and Labrador’s newest public cultural space. It’s the place where it all comes together – our history, heritage and artistic expression” That’s how the website describes The Rooms.

Modernest Photographs

We visited there for the first time on Feb 9th.

An exhibit in the Art Gallery caught my attention: Modernist Photographs

Since I’m not the best writer here are a few excerpts from the description: “This exhibition of 69 photographs from the early decades of the twentieth century examines the expansive, innovative and often contradictory modernist ethos that shaped the look of photographic art during the period 1900 to 1940”

“The radical technological advances in the early decades of the twentieth century prompted photographers to look at the world with different eyes … Many photographers … dreamed of turning the established conventions of photographic picture-making upside-down … there was also a growing consciousness of the power of the photographic image to witness, and possibly change, social and political awareness.”

I was hoping for a long wander around the room looking into each photo. But the nearly empty gallery was constantly echoing with screams and pitter-patter from my two kids. With a quick walk I scanned the images until I came upon two pleasant surprises.

The first was a photo by Dorothea Lange called Migrant Mother. You may know it, it is quite famous.

The second and most exciting for me was an Alfred Stieglitz photo from his “Equivalent” series. WOW!

The excitement for me wasn’t so much that I was in the midst of great work with great meaning, it was that I actually got to see the work of photographers who “dreamed of turning the established conventions of photographic picture-making upside-down” I felt like I should know these people…you know, like you might feel you should know your favorite actor. At the same time I never felt it would be possible. But here I was seeing one of their images…seeing a piece of who they were or who they wanted to be. Amongst the chaos of the screaming kids it was a great moment.

The images were old and dark. They weren’t as clear and perfect as I had imagined. I thought it would be the greatest image I ever laid my eyes one. But the great part was seeing a part of photographic history, seeing a group of people who were an integral part of the history of an art form I dearly love.

Maybe one day soon I will dig up my paper on “Photography and Music” and type it on my blog. In fact, I will write that on my ‘must do’ list.

As for the meanings and history behind the photographs mentioned above and shown below, google it.

Liam gazing out the NarrowsMigrant Mother
Equivalent (Series)Equivalent (Series)Equivalent (Series)

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