Curator in Conversation: Privacy, Visibility, and Early Photography

Join guest curator Sarah Parsons (York University) in conversation with Zeynep Gürsel, media anthropologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University, about themes related to the exhibition, Hypervisibility: Early Photography and Privacy in North America, 1839–1900.

About the Exhibition

Given the current ubiquity of cameras and the broad circulation of photographs in this digital age, photography can be understood as a threat to privacy. But even in its earliest forms—from daguerreotypes, cartes de visite, and stereographs to commercial advertising—the medium triggered both excitement and concerns about heightened visibility. Photography carried various risks and rewards based on gender, race, class, and disability. This exhibition considers some of those aspects as it traces the fascinating interrelated and overlooked histories of photography and privacy in the nineteenth century.

This exhibition draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

About the Speakers

Sarah Parsons is a professor of Art History and Visual Culture at York University. Her research explores the history and theory of photography in relation to questions of ethics and power. In the last ten years, she has published several texts on prolific 19th century photographer William

Notman. She is also co-author of Photography in Canada, 1839–1989: An Illustrated History (2023) with Sarah Bassnett. Hypervisibility is part of a multiyear project, Feeling Exposed: Photography, Privacy, and Visibility in Nineteenth Century North America, supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Zeynep Devrim Gürsel is a media anthropologist and Associate Professor in the department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. Her scholarship involves both the analysis and production of documentary images. She is the author of Image Brokers: Visualizing World News in the Age of Digital Circulation (University of California Press, 2016), an ethnography of the international photojournalism industry. She has published on images of the War on Terror, medical portraits, Xrays and crowdshots. For more than a decade she has been researching photography as a tool of governmentality in the late Ottoman period. Specifically she is investigating photography during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid (1876-1909) to understand emerging forms of the state and the changing contours of Ottoman subjecthood.

Admission is always free.

Gallery Hours

Wednesday: 12–8 pm

Thursday–Saturday: 12–6 pm

Sunday–Tuesday: Closed

Free Exhibition Tours

Tuesdays: Tours by appointment

Wednesday–Friday: Drop-in, 1:30pm

Image Credit: Joseph Henry Stringer, [Woman’s hand holding an infant], ca. 1875, albumen print. The Image Centre, Gift of Dr. Martin J. Bass and Gail Silverman Bass.

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Curator in Conversation: Privacy, Visibility, and Early Photography

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