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Aperture lists A New and Mysterious Art as one of the top 5 exhibitions of the fall

5 Photography Exhibitions to See This Fall


By Genevieve Allison


“It is now more than fifteen years ago that specimens of a new and mysterious art were first exhibited to our wondering gaze,” the British art critic and historian Lady Elizabeth Eastlake wrote in 1857. Fifteen decades later, the “ancient” photographic methods of the nineteenth century, and the vaporous, alchemical images they render, once again appear “new and mysterious.” Curated by Jerry Spagnoli, a leading practitioner of the daguerreotype, this beguiling exhibition presents works by contemporary artists mining photography’s rich technological and material history. The most notable are those in which artists use heritage techniques to amplify contemporary visions. At just over seven feet long, Vera Lutter’s gelatin silver print of the Venetian skyline, Campo San Moise, Venice, VIII: March 4 (2006), produced using a camera obscura, dominates the room. In an age of endless mutability and reproducibility, her unique negative print suspends the image of a sinking city in a single, eternal moment. The acclaimed Japanese photographer Takashi Arai has been making daguerreotypes since 2010 to create individual records, or “micro-monuments,” of subject matter relating to nuclear history. His piece A Maquette for a Multiple Monument for B29: Backscar (2014), from the series Exposed in a Hundred Suns, shows how an historic practice becomes, by virtue of size, instantly contemporary.