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Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870

Exposed offers a fascinating look at pictures made on the sly, without the explicit permission of the people depicted. Investigating the shifting boundaries between seeing and spying, the private act and the public image, the exhibition reveals the myriad ways photography has brought to light the forbidden and the taboo. Homing in on sex, celebrity, violence, and surveillance, it provokes an array of uneasy questions at the intersection of both power and pleasure.

With more than 200 photographs, installations, and video pieces, Exposed includes works by “unseen photographers” as well as images both celebrated and notorious: Brassaï’s erotic “Secret Paris of the 1930s”; Weegee’s iconic photograph of Marilyn Monroe; Nick Ut’s documentary image of children fleeing napalm attacks during the Vietnam War. Pictures made by amateurs, professional journeymen, and governmental agencies are presented alongside renowned figures such as Guy Bourdin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Nan Goldin, Lee Miller, Helmut Newton, and Man Ray. Exposed has a particular resonance in an era marked by ubiquitous surveillance and instantaneous distribution of images. Alternately shocking, illuminating, disturbing, and witty, it provides both historical and timely perspective on the tensions between the camera, art, and society.

Curators: Sandra P. Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography at SFMOMA; with Simon Baker, Curator of Photography, Tate; and Ann Coxon, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern

Walker coordinating curator: Darsie Alexander

Exhibition Catalogue

Since the rise of the photographic medium in the late 19th century, people have been fascinated by the camera’s ability to make private moments public. This book examines the ways in which acts of voyeurism and surveillance have inspired, challenged, and expanded the medium of photography throughout its evolution. Features images by photographers both unknown and renowned with insightful essays and commentary by SFMOMA Senior Curator of Photography Sandra Phillips (2010; hardcover; 256 pages).

Tour Schedule

Tate Modern, London • May 28 to October 3, 2010
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art • October 30, 2010 to April 17, 2011