Location:Center Gallery, Focus Gallery, Halford Gallery, Becker Gallery, Bernard and Barbro Osher Gallery
This exhibition explores the phenomenon of “people watching” as a recreational activity, an act of surveillance, a type of harassment, a sign of empathy, and a documentary form of expression. In the wake of the global pandemic of 2020, when social distancing and shelter in place orders have transformed our understanding of public space and our relationship to others, this exhibition will bring together a selection of contemporary photographs that investigate the myriad ways in which artists have represented individuals on the street, at home and at work, in the studio, and encountered during documentary or journalistic assignments.
Since the advent of photography in the nineteenth century, artists have used the camera to look at—and to look with—the human subjects in their midst. They have made a practice centered on the figure one of the medium’s leading genres. This interest in bodies in public and private space has only increased in recent decades with the development of new camera technologies and distribution systems. “People watching” is about noticing difference, but also about attempts to find common ground, an idea that is especially poignant at this historic moment.
People Watching: Contemporary Photography since 1965 will feature more than 120 photographs taken over the last sixty years by more than four dozen leading artists from around the world. It will begin to answer such fundamental questions as “Why do we photograph other people, and ourselves?”, “What are the different types of looking?”, and “What role have contemporary photographers played in both furthering and challenging prevailing assumptions about how we understand each other?” All works in the exhibition are from the Permanent Collection of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
Major support has been provided by the Elizabeth B. G. Hamlin Fund and Steven P. Marrow ’83 and Dianne A. Pappas P’21.
Read the press release here.
Read the exhibition labels here.
People Watching, What Will You Remember, August 10, 2023
Art Seen: Photo fest at Bowdoin College and the Portland Museum of Art, Portland Phoenix, July 26, 2023
Maine museums are overflowing with world-class photography exhibits, Bangor Daily News, July 5, 2023
Review—People Watching: Contemporary Photography Since 1965, Musée Magazine, June 14, 2023