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Hidden in Plain Sight: Contemporary Photographs from the Collection

Metropolitan Museum
1000 Fifth Avenue, at 82nd Street, 212-535-7710
Upper East Side
May 15 - September 3, 2007
Web Site

Hidden in Plain Sight: Contemporary Photographs from the Collection features the work of artists who use the camera to call our attention to the poetic richness latent in ordinary things. Often deliberately understated, these photographs are filled with everyday epiphanies, inviting us to look more closely at the world around us. The exhibition will feature approximately 35 works by American and international artists, including Walker Evans, Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, Jean-Marc Bustamante, Patrick Faigenbaum, Gabriel Orozco, Damián Ortega, Daniel Faust, Mitch Epstein, Lewis Koch, Bertien van Manen, Carrie Mae Weems, Rachel Harrison, and Shomei Tomatsu.

The photographs featured in Hidden in Plain Sight encourage a heightened awareness of the fleeting beauty to be found in simple objects and chance occurrences. In his photographs of empty tree planters, Damián Ortega (b. 1967, Mexico) finds geometric patterns and entropy in the pavement cracks and sprouting weeds that appear on barren patches of Mexico City sidewalks. The slightly melancholy photographs of Jean-Marc Bustamante (French, b. 1952) evoke magical moments in commonplace settings. In an untitled 1998 photograph from his series Something Is Missing, Bustamante records a “found sculpture” he discovered on the street: an orderly newspaper stand with stacks of papers fluttering at the corners.

A 1992 photograph by Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953), taken in Sea Island, Georgia, depicts a mattress spring mysteriously hanging from a tree—a purposeful intervention by residents of the local Gullah community, who believe it will ensnare evil spirits. Rachel Harrison (American, b. 1966), in her Perth Amboy series, photographed the window of an ordinary-looking house in New Jersey where it was believed that the face of the Virgin Mary had appeared. The pictures focus on the accumulated fingerprints left by the faithful as they touched the pane of glass.

A particular focus of the show will be the work of Gabriel Orozco (b. 1962, Mexico), whose Cemetery (2002), captures an unassuming yet surprising landscape that the artist encountered on one of his travels: dozens of round terracotta pots, used as grave markers and receptacles for offerings, lay scattered across on the desert sand of Timbuktu. Since the 1980s, this peripatetic artist has used photography as a form of visual note-taking, as well as to document ephemeral sculptures he makes on his local walks and world travels.
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