Harvard Art Museums,
32 Quincy Street
Your Story Has Touched My Heart is a video installation exploring the Harvard Art Museums’ remarkable American Professional Photographers Collection. Acquired by sociologist and pioneering photo-historian Barbara Norfleet during her career in Harvard’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, the collection spans the late 19th and most of the 20th century and includes nearly 20,000 images. The photographs depict the hopes and dreams—and fears—of Americans as they imagined themselves at their best. They were taken inside and outside the studio—at weddings, holidays, house fires, funerals, and a wide variety of other occasions.
Your Story Has Touched My Heart, created by artists Sarah Newman and Matthew Battles from metaLAB (at) Harvard, combines these photographs with new video footage, sound, and fragments of text that put the work in dialogue with memory, individuality, ephemerality, and the meaning of visual abundance as these images find their way in the digital realm.
After a screening of the video, Newman and Battles will talk about the installation and their experience working with such a large and complex collection. Art historian Kate Palmer Albers, from the University of Arizona, who worked extensively on the American Professional Photographers Collection from 2003 to 2005, and has since cited it as an early influence on her trajectory as a thinker and scholar, will speak about contemporary photographic practice, abundance, and ephemerality.
Your Story Has Touched My Heart will be on view in the Lightbox Gallery, on Level 5, from May 23 through June 6, screening every 20 minutes, beginning at the top of the hour.
Matthew Battles is associate director of metaLAB (at) Harvard. He has written about the cultural dimensions of art, science, and technology for such publications as The American Scholar, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, Harper’s Magazine, and The New York Times. His book Library: An Unquiet History (Norton) is available in eight languages worldwide and has been in print since 2003. Battles is coauthor, with Jeffrey Schnapp, of The Library Beyond the Book (Harvard University Press, 2014). His latest book, a material and cultural history of writing, Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word, was published in 2015. His research and creative interests at metaLAB focus on collections (of books, images, and artifacts of all kinds) as strange knowledge producers, objects of desire, and bearers of memory.
Sarah Newman is artist-in-residence at metaLAB (at) Harvard, and a research affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Working primarily in the area of photography, she puts appropriation, collaboration, and whimsy to work in discovering spaces that fuse physical, virtual, and imaginary worlds. Newman holds a B.A. in philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.F.A. in imaging arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology; her work has been shown in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., and she has held artist residencies in Germany and Sweden. Her current work explores memory, the abundance of photographic archives, digital secrets, and the contextual understanding of self.
Kate Palmer Albers is associate professor of art history at the University of Arizona. She is the author of Uncertain Histories: Accumulation, Inaccessibility, and Doubt in Contemporary Photography (University of California Press, 2015). Her recent articles address photography and digital abundance, multi-gigapixel photography, Gerhard Richter’s Atlas, and contemporary artists’ archival projects. Her current online writing project, Circulation/Exchange: Moving Images in Contemporary Art, is devoted to contemporary art practices that engage with our current world of moving photographic images, and is supported by a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.
The lecture will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level.
Modern and contemporary art programs at the Harvard Art Museums are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art.