Now You See It, Now You Don’t

A topic often discussed in photography, especially with regard to buying and selling, is the archival quality of the print.  When you are purchasing a photograph, much like investing in a classic car, you want it to last as long as possible without any colors fading.  Most photographers or dealers will print on “archival” paper using “archival” ink and will frame it using materials such as UV glass, ensuring that the photograph lasts as long as humanly possible after it’s hung on the purchaser’s wall, oftentimes longer then 200 years (or so we hope).

Imagine if this idea were taken to the opposite extreme?  What if I told you that I knew of hundreds of photos that you couldn’t buy, you couldn’t hang on your wall, and that you would only be able to view for one hour before they were never seen again?  Well I do, and they’re part of a new project called One Hour Photo.

Curated by Adam Good, Chajana denHarder, and Chandi Kelley, this unique show at the Katzen Arts Center provokes many questions about what a photograph actually is.  If a photo isn’t printed, if it isn’t tangible, if it is only projected on a wall, is it really a photo at all?  And if it is projected for only one hour and nobody sees it, did it really ever exist?  After all, art wouldn’t be art if it weren’t for the participation and interpretation of the viewer.

The idea is brilliantly simple.  Between now and March 31st you are encouraged to submit your photo that relates to “ephemerality, memory, anti-artifact, loss, nostalgia, magic, time, disappearance, dissolution, whispers, traces, ghosts, etc.”   There is no charge to submit your photo, but should it be chosen by the curators there is one catch: the photo can never be seen again.  By signing a release form, you give your word that you will never display or print the photo.  Ever.  It’s life, in entirety, will be one hour long.

I encourage our photographers to submit a photo to this unique project and to visit the show during it’s run from May 8 through June 6.

One Hour Photo
May 8—June 6, 2010
American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center
Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tue-Sun

Hailing from the Mile High City, Max has also lived in Tinsel Town, the Emerald City, as well as the City of Brotherly Love. Now a District resident, he likes to write about cool photos by local photographers, the DC restaurant and bar scene, or anything else that pops into his mind.

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