Nationhood, Place, and Identity Examined Through Exhibition of Global Contemporary Photography

DISTRIBUTED ON January 31, 2017

PRINCETON, N.J. – Images by some of the most insightful and provocative photographers working today will be featured this winter and spring in the exhibition Revealing Pictures: Photographs from the Christopher E. Olofson Collection at the Princeton University Art Museum. On view Feb. 4 through July 2, 2017, the exhibition offers photographs by artists from around the world that explore issues surrounding identity, place and nationhood. Whether seemingly empty spaces that convey the human impact of governmental policies, arresting portraits that suggest the staggering toll of war and economic and social injustice, or photographic series that serve to make visible underrepresented communities, these images expand our understanding of what a photograph can do.

The exhibition presents work by 11 leading international artists: Nikolay Bakharev, Edmund Clark, Daniel and Geo Fuchs, Tim Hetherington, Pieter Hugo, Liu Zheng, Zanele Muholi, Robert Polidori, Alec Soth and Miwa Yanagi.

Revealing Pictures is curated by Katherine Bussard, Peter C. Bunnell Curator of Photography at the Princeton University Art Museum, and is drawn from the collection of Princeton alumnus Christopher E. Olofson (Class of 1992), a longstanding member of the museum’s advisory council.

“This group of visionary photographers, gathered by cherished museum friend and supporter Chris Olofson, offers profound and incisive commentary on our shared humanity and the human condition,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher-David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director. “Their powerful images open windows into the experience of individuals and cultures that simultaneously remind us of the things that link us across cultures and generations and of the obstacles to full understanding.”

The common thread linking visually disparate works in the exhibition is an unfiltered and unflinching approach to subject matter. Most of the photographers are represented by more than one work, affording the visitor a deeper appreciation of the artists’ concerns. For example, the seemingly straightforward series of head-and-shoulders portraits by Muholi was developed as a form of visual activism in response to crimes against women and LGBTI individuals in her native South Africa. Hugo, another South African artist, has photographed children born after 1994 in his homeland and in Rwanda; one of the three portraits included here shows a child in oversized clothes appearing to hover angelically atop a natural landscape. A multiyear project by the Chinese artist Liu captures a diverse atlas of performers, workers, strippers and warriors, illuminating less-publicized elements of Chinese society that operate outside of officially sanctioned aspects of modern China.

Other highlights include selections from Soth’s now iconic Sleeping by the Mississippi, a series of portrayals of individuals, landscapes and interiors along America’s third coast; two large-format interior disaster studies by Polidori; and the Fuchs’ eerie yet garishly perfunctory images of secret rooms of the East German Stasi.

Two panel discussions featuring important scholars from a diverse array of fields and perspectives have been organized to accompany the exhibition and will take place at the Museum: “Revealing humanity: a conversation about visual identity in postcolonial South Africa,” on March 9, 2017, at 5 p.m., takes as its starting point Muholi’s Faces and Phases series, which documents the artist’s black lesbian, transgender and queer community living in South Africa; and “Revealing war: a conversation about art and journalism in the 21st century,” on April 27, 2017, at 5 p.m., responds to Edmund Clark’s Guantánamo Bay series and Tim Hetherington’s photojournalism of upheaval and conflict in West Africa and Afghanistan. Among other related programs will be an artist’s talk by Clark on April 6, at 6 p.m.

Revealing Pictures: Photographs from the Christopher E. Olofson Collection has been made possible with generous support from Stacey Roth Goergen, Class of 1990, and Robert Goergen; Susan and John Diekman, Class of 1965; the Anne C. Sherrerd, Graduate School Class of 1987, Art Museum Fund; Heather and Paul G. Haaga Jr., Class of 1970; the Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Exhibitions Fund; William S. Fisher, Class of 1979, and Sakurako Fisher, through the Sakana Foundation; Sarah Lee Elson, Class of 1984; and the Sara and Joshua Slocum, Class of 1998, Art Museum Fund.

About the Princeton University Art Museum

With a collecting history that extends back to 1755, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, with collections that have grown to include nearly 100,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe.

Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world. Intimate in scale yet expansive in scope, the Museum offers a respite from the rush of daily life, a revitalizing experience of extraordinary works of art and an opportunity to delve deeply into the study of art and culture.

The Princeton University Art Museum is located at the heart of the Princeton campus, a short walk from the shops and restaurants of Nassau Street. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.

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Please direct image requests to Erin Firestone, Manager of Marketing and Public Relations, Princeton University Art Museum, at (609) 258-3767 or