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How Photography Defines Place Through Relationships and the Natural World | Arts

In this series, Lagniappe presents a different work from the collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art each week, with commentary by a curator.

Since its inception, photography has been part of our ability to see and conceptualize the world. As a result, photographers have both capitalized on and challenged our enduring assumption of photography’s fidelity to accurately depicting places.

Sometimes photographers approach these questions metaphorically, or without clearly depicting a real place. In this photograph, for example, Emmet Gowin (American, b. 1941) has photographed the torn pages of an illustrated geography textbook as if it were a collage, to create a fantastical landscape.

Gowin reminds us of how we visualized the world before photography, through painting or illustrations, before remembering that we are indeed looking at an image of images.






Brian Piper, Associate Curator of Photographs, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NOMA




Were the drawings in this book more or less factual representations of the places they intended to describe than other photographs, for example, in this journal? Can these illustrations convey things that a photograph might not convey?

Can we believe that Gowin’s photograph is a complete and accurate representation of the book that was in front of the camera?

Gowin made this photograph during one of many transitions in a career fraught with change, particularly a shift in focus from photographs of his family’s life to an interest in landscapes.

This photograph exemplifies Gowin’s exploration of how the camera depicts texture, as well as his lifelong concern with two of the most important ways we define place: through our human relationships and through our connection. to the natural world.

Brian Piper is Assistant Curator of Photographs for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Anne Noggle was an aviator, photographer, curator and teacher. She got her pilot’s license at 17 and at 21, she was flying…

In this series, Lagniappe presents a different work from the collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art each week, with commentary by a curator.

In this series, Lagniappe presents each week a different work from the collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art, commented by a cur…

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Brian Piper is Assistant Curator of Photographs for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at the New Orleans Museum of Art.