Exhibitions - 2009: The Year of the Photograph at the National Building Museum Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 18:00

Trager_Guggenheim.jpg Three exhibitions highlighting the work of Richard Ross, Camilo José Vergara, and Philip Trager reveal a different side of the built environment.

Photographs can provoke, engage, awe, and in some cases inspire an audience to consider the built environment in unexpected ways. In 2009, the National Building Museum will present three photography exhibitions featuring the work of Richard Ross, Camilo José Vergara, and Philip Trager. All three may be broadly defined as architectural photographers, but each brings a unique focus to buildings we might have thought we knew. With this series of exhibitions, the National Building Museum broadens the definition of architectural photography and shares with audiences the scope and breadth of what photographs of buildings can do and mean.

Guggenheim Museum, 1978.
Philip Trager, courtesy of the National Building Museum

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The first exhibition, Architecture of Authority: Photographs by Richard Ross,Ross_Homeland_Security.jpg opens on April 18 and is on view through August 16, 2009. The 44 large-format color photographs are the result of five years of work by Richard Ross who traveled the world attempting to capture the essence, and sometimes ironic beauty, of what he calls “asymmetrical architecture”— spaces that exert power over individuals. The building types vary, from prisons and courtrooms to the seemingly benign preschool classroom or telephone booth. Their juxtaposition provokes visitors to contemplate which architectural traits and design features are shared by these ostensibly unrelated spaces. For more information on Architecture of Authority, please see the fact sheet.

“Communication with Others Room,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security, San Francisco, California
Richard Ross, courtesy of the National Building Museum

Opening June 20, 2009, Storefront Churches: Photographs by Camilo José Vergara narrates Vergara’s 30-year exploration of the unassuming buildings that offer a place of worship in some of the poorest urban neighborhoods in the United States.

Vergara_1855_3rd_St.jpgThese visually arresting color photographs of former storefronts—and homes, garages, factories, and warehouses—that have been remade into churches tell a story of faith and resourcefulness in places that have little else. Vergara was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2002 and is undoubtedly one of the nation’s foremost urban documentarians. Storefront Churches marks the Museum’s fourth collaboration with Vergara and will be on view through November 29, 2009.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Vergara will participate in the Museum’s summer outreach program, Investigating Where We Live (IWWL), which empowers middle and high school students to explore and interpret city neighborhoods through photography, interviews, and creative writing.  Now in its 14th year, IWWL was actually inspired by Vergara’s 1996 exhibition at the Museum, The New American Ghetto: Photographs by Camilo José Vergara. Vergara will also give a public lecture this November on his work in conjunction with FotoWeek DC 2009.

1855 3rd St., N. Richmond, California, 2004.
Camilo José Vergara, courtesy of the National Building Museum

Where Architecture of Authority and Storefront Churches focus on specific themes, Form and Movement: Photographs by Philip Trager casts a wider net. Opening July 11, 2009 and on view through January 3, 2010, this exhibition consists of black and white photographs selected from Trager’s 40-year career.  It brings together early New England landscapes, extraordinary images of architecture from Italian Renaissance villas to New York City skyscrapers, and thrilling depictions of modern dance. The installation reveals Trager’s ongoing exploration of form and movement, whether it be a Palladian villa or a body in flight.

West 122nd Street, 1979.
Philip Trager, courtesy of the National Building Museum

To know more on the exhibitions, please visit the National Building Museum 's web site

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 February 2009 09:16
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