By Clara Yetter
Though photography is one of the most popular visual mediums of today, this was not always the case. For many years, photography was not considered a fine art because of its dependence on the use of a mechanical device. Today it thrives in the continually growing world of technology.
Barbara Tannenbaum will investigate the advantages and disadvantages of this growth in her upcoming lecture “Will Success Spoil Photography?” on Oct. 4. Tannenbaum will be one of this year’s Mesaros Visiting Lecturers, hosted by the Department of Studio Art.
Tannenbaum is the curator of photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Previously, she spent 26 years developing photography and video exhibits at the Akron Art Museum. She joined the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2011. Her lecture will discuss the shifting of photography as an art form in the 1970s as it became canonized in the world of fine art. Over time, photography began to compete with other art forms and accrued a marketable value.
“Suddenly the epitome of success wasn’t necessarily getting your artwork on the cover of LIFE magazine,” Tannenbaum said in an interview. Photography is now common in galleries, museums and auction houses.
Although she has lectured widely around the country, Tannenbaum had connections with some of the faculty at Kenyon and was excited to see the newest art exhibit at Gund Gallery. “I also want to meet the students at Kenyon to hear their ideas and critiques,” she said.
While Tannenbaum is on campus, she will visit the Greenslade Special Collections and Archives to see important early tintypes (a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel) and meet with several senior art majors working in photography.
“We are thrilled to have an Ohio-based speaker of national renown come to campus,” wrote Professor of Art and Photography Marcella Hackbardt, one of the coordinators of the event, in an email to the Collegian. Established in 1993, the Mesaros Art Fund enables the art department to put on special exhibitions and bring in guest lecturers such as Tannenbaum.
As photography expands and becomes more easily accessible due to our technological advancements, its individuality becomes even more relevant, Tannenbaum said in her lecture, “Will Success Spoil Photography?” which is available online on Vimeo. It can be fictional or real, repressive or liberating; but it is only one small snapshot framing a bigger picture. “You have to keep in mind the intention,” Tannenbaum said. “Photography is about expressing ourselves and shaping events through our own skill and taste.”
Tannenbaum will give her lecture, “Will Success Spoil Photography?” on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. in Gund Gallery Community Theater.