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Past Exhibition

  • Makers unknown
    Portrait of man in uniform, ca. 1915
    Courtesy George Eastman House
  • Makers unknown
    Portrait of husband and wife on their wedding day, ca. 1890
    Private Collection
  • Makers unknown (American)
    Portrait of a young woman with wax flower wreath, ca. 1890
    Private Collection

Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance


Since its invention, photography has been inextricably tied up with the act of remembrance. Photographs help us to recall family, beloved friends, special moments, trips, and other events, speaking across time and place to foster an emotional bond between subject and viewer. But what kind of memories are these? Can photographs conjure the immediate, physically embracing experience of involuntary memory, or is the photographic medium only capable of providing frozen illustrations of the past? Forget Me Not focuses on the complex relationship between photography and remembrance, exploring the practice of strengthening the emotional appeal of photographs by embellishing them—with text, paint, frames, embroidery, fabric, string, hair, flowers, cigar wrappers, butterfly wings, and more. The end results are strange and often beautiful hybrid objects. These adornments allow some photographs to conjure touch, sound, and smell as well as sight, offering a far more involving memorial experience than photography alone can provide.

Geoffrey Batchen
Guest Curator

This exhibition is presented in collaboration with the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, and is the ninth in the series "New Histories of Photography." It is made possible by the generous support of The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance is based on an exhibition originally commissioned by the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.