School Photos and Their Afterlives

Lorie Novak, In Honor of Brown vs. Board of Education, 1994


Hood Museum of Art

Dartmouth College

Hanover NH, USA

January 6- April 12, 2020

Curators:Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer


“School Photos and Their Afterlives” presents archival class photographs from around the globe, ranging across photography’s history, in a critical dialogue with works by contemporary artists who reframe and comment on them. The exhibit shows that despite the uniformity, repetition and seriality that they share with other everyday photographic genres, school pictures perform important social and ideological functions. As a technology of modernity, photography produces social subjects and undergirds ideologies of social assimilation and integration, as well as separation and exclusion through schooling. School photographs create imperial and national subjects, they create others, but they can also allow us to imagine justice, solidarity and a more democratic future.

Along with a wide array of archival photographs, the exhibit features work by Marcelo Brodsky, Steven Deo, Silvina der Meguerditchian, Mirta Kupferminc, Diane Meyer, Vik Muniz, Lorie Novak, José Clemente Orozco, Sandra Ramos, Carrie Mae Weems, and David Wojnarowicz. Reflecting on the afterlives of school photos, this exhibition thus seek to expose the powerful role of vernacular photographs and photographic archives, their affective resonances, and the many imaginative and compelling ways that artists around the world bring these into visibility.