Synopses & Reviews
Photographs have the power to define and shape a community of people—for those who are revealed as well as for those who view them. Louis Kaplan addresses this phenomenon through a constellation of innovative essays that draw on the artistic renderings of national, ethnic, and global community. Spanning the twentieth century and profusely illustrated, American Exposures
sheds light on a wide range of photographs, from Arthur Moles propagandistic “living photographs” of American icons and symbols to the exploration of contemporary subcultural communities by the Korean-born photographer and performance artist Nikki Lee, and asserts that the depiction of community is a central component to photography.
Examining an eclectic collection of photographers, American Exposures deploys a number of critical concepts and theories developed by Jean-Luc Nancy in The Inoperative Community, as well as other philosophers, and applies them to the field of photography studies. Combining artistic and historical material with interdisciplinary theory, Kaplan moves beyond indexical thinking to demonstrate how an expository approach offers valuable resources with which to analyze visual communication. In doing so, he highlights the distinct powers of both community and photography as discourses of exposure.
With an original approach to photography from Edward Steichens Family of Man exhibition to Pedro Meyer and the rise of the digital image, Kaplan points to a new way to think about the intimate relationship among photography, American life, and the artistic imagination.
Louis Kaplan is associate professor of history and theory of photography and new media in the Graduate Department of History of Art at the University of Toronto; he also coordinates the Visual Culture and Communication program at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. He is the author of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Biographical Writings.