This Exhibition Has Ended

January 24, 2015
June 7, 2015
In the Gold Gallery

Staged, Performed, Manipulated challenges you to think outside of each photograph and to imagine the narrative behind it. This show is the equivalent of reading an amazing book: you become so engrossed in its pages that you want to know, need to know, what will happen next."
—Amber Donofrio, Ithaca Times 

One could argue that most photographs are staged. Portrait photographs are certainly performed or even manipulated by both photographer and subject. While the earliest photographic portraits like daguerreotypes required sitters to remain still for several minutes, today it is hard to distinguish between posed and unposed pictures as photographers are able to capture images of people quickly and discreetly thanks to more portable cameras and faster exposures.

Indeed, from the very beginnings of the medium photographers have shot artificially constructed scenes created only for the purpose of taking a picture. Nineteenth-century photographers Oscar Gustav Rejlander, Henry Peach Robinson, and Julia Margaret Cameron staged classical or biblical scenes with actors or family members in so-called “tableaux vivants.” English Pictorialist Robinson became best known for his combination printing—joining multiple negatives to form an image, pioneering the very contemporary art form of photomontage. Alexander Gardner’s famous Civil War photograph, Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter (1865), was manipulated for greater drama by moving the soldier’s corpse into a more striking location.

Against this background, Staged, Performed, Manipulated presents photographs—drawn exclusively from the permanent collection and dating mostly from the early 1990s to early 2010s—that engage these aspects of photography conceptually, addressing issues related to gender, identity, the photographic apparatus, the gaze, and more. The exhibition includes work by Gregory Crewdson, Carrie Mae Weems, Renée Cox, Katy Grannan, Justine Kurland, Nikki S. Lee, Meghan Boody, Anneè Olofsson, Yasumasa Morimura, James Casebere, David Levinthal, Kate O’Donovan Cook, Anthony Goicolea, and Barbara Probst.


This exhibition was curated by Andrea Inselmann, curator of modern and contemporary art & photography at the Johnson Museum, and supported in part by the Ames Exhibition Endowment.