ICP Museum on the Bowery Opens With Exhibition, “Public, Private, Secret”

Natalie Bookchin

Natalie Bookchin, “My Meds,” from the Testament series, 2009 – 2016. © Natalie Bookchin

The International Center for Photography’s new museum space at 250 Bowery opens Thursday, June 23, with the exhibition, Public, Private, Secret: an exploration of privacy in visual culture. The show examines various concepts of privacy today, in relation to the need for public visibility and self-validation in our “post-internet,” age. Public, Private is organized by ICP’s first ever curator-in-residence, Charlotte Cotton. She has selected historical works from the museum’s own collection along with fascinating new contemporary work. There’s even some real-time curation, featuring filtered posts from live social media streams, categorized around topics such as “celebrity,” “hotness” and “scandal.”

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 1979, International Center of Photography, Gift of  Photographers + Friends United Against AIDS, 1998. © Cindy Sherman, courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 1979, International Center of Photography, Gift of
Photographers + Friends United Against AIDS, 1998. © Cindy Sherman, courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

The older works by heavyweights like Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, and Henri Cartier-Bresson remind us that we’ve always been fascinated by what people do “in private,” while the newer works emphasize our current reality (i.e.”nothing is private.”)
Natalie Bookchin’s fantastic video, “My Meds,” presents a collage of self-portraits created from hundreds of found online video diaries. Clips are edited in such a way that a universal chorus emerges out of each individual’s “private” monologue.
John Houck’s “Portrait Landscape” features custom facial-recognition software used to analyze scenes from Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic 1966 film Blow-Up, eerily emphasizing elements of the film that the program misidentifies as faces.
John Houck, Portrait Landscape (video still), 2015. © John Houck, courtesy of the artist

John Houck, Portrait Landscape (video still), 2015. © John Houck, courtesy of the artist

In an interview, ICP’s Executive Director, Mark Lubell, said this inaugural show is intended to capture “the seismic shift that has happened in the world of photography,” as a result of the digital revolution. “Today we are all using images to communicate with each other” he noted.

It’s a fitting exploration, as ICP catches up with the cultural scene that has moved downtown. In choosing to relocate to the Lower East Side, they also embrace the confounding new definitions of what it means to be a photographer in our ever-streaming world.

ICP is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. On Thursday, the galleries will be open until 9 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors. Children under the age of $14 get in free when accompanied by an adult. On opening day, Thursday, admission will be free. Visit ICP’s website for more information.