Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 25

The long, slow turn into the new millennium has been an auspicious and revealing process for

Americans, an opportunity to assess the past and a chance to imagine the future in a different way. When, in 1999, staff members frorn the International Center of Photography began discussions with representatives frorn the National Endowment for the Arts about how the agency's Millennium Initiative programs might best evaluate contemporary visual art, the issues were both challenging and self evident. One of the most striking features of Arnerican culture at this historical juncture, we all agreed, is the profound and unresolved issue of national identity. What does it mean to be an American? What are the boundaries of the nation? Who qualifies for citizenship? Who is excluded? Central to these questions is the troubling issue of race, the aspect of national identity that continues to defy explanation and to incite divisiveness. Despite the regular media claims that we have moved beyond race or that shifting demographics have made the concept irrelevant, ongoing political and social clashes attest to the contrary. If race is a myth, it remains an explosive one. It was, therefore, with a mix of humility and ambition that we initially formulated the concept for Onfy Skin Deep: Changing
WiIIis E. Hartshorn





the American

Seli. The goal of this ambitious project is to challenge

governing American conceptions of race, through the unique the exhibition and website it

some of the central myths or preconceptions identity. In particular, this book-and accompanies-aims to show how fluctuating

nation, and self have been fixed or transformed

attributes and strateqic uses of photography. What the curators propose here is, in effect, a different reading of the archive of historical and contemporary representations. photographs, not one that accuses

valorizes but Center

one that studies the deep and lasting social impact of photographic It is entirely appropriate that the International of Photography, with its long history of political engagement through "concerned photography," should attempt this task. For this project is above all a political one, one that asks each reader and each viewer to question her or his own identity and the ways it is shaped byand linked to wider social ideas through photography. Clearly, such a complex intellectual investigation could not have been possible without the advice and leadership of many individuals. First and foremost, we must express our gratitude to the coorganizers of this project, Brian Wallis, Director of Exhibitions and Chief Curator at the International Center of Photography, and Coco Fusco, Associate Professor at Columbia University, as well as a leading artist and critico As two key voices in the cultural debates of the last decade, Wallis and Fusco have worked together for three years to produce a thouqht-

provoking book and exhibition that will surely serve as an important critical intervention for years to come. An exhibition of this magnltude could have been realized without timely logistical and financial support. In this case, we are proud to acknowledge our partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, which awarded this project a generous Millennium Grant at a crucial early stage. The Endowment's bold leadership commitment helped to generate a number of matching grants from private donors. We gratefully acknowledge these major sponsors: the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Altria, and Corbis, with its enlightened commitment to expanding the public's awareness of the important role pictures play in our culture. Given the national scope of this exhibition, it is significant that loans to this exhibition have come from over one hundred artists, collectors, galleries, and museums throughout the country. We offer our appreciation to those individuals and institutions been Invaluable. Finally, we at the International that have so seltlessCenter of Photography Iy aided us in this undertaking; their cooperation and generosity have extend our deepest gratitude to the artists and photographers included in On/y Skin Deep. Their ideas and images give form to this project and help us to better understand how photographs have shaped notions of national and individual identity. It is our hope that through


Deep their work will stimulate

a widespread and lively

conversation about what it means to be an American today.

Few issues are as controversial

as race and nation. After years of

debate we still understand very little about how these terms of selfdefinition and identity work. Their meaning seems to find its most powerful expression in photographs. America as a safe haven for immigrants and an Edenic paradise for pioneers and entrepreneurs, these are images formed in our consciousness through photography. Equally powerful

Brian Wallis

photographs show us a society fraught by racial conflict and struggles to transform the social order. And even those photographs that might appear somewhat more disassociated from social issuesthose more overtly concerned with style or with personal express ioncan be indirectly or unintentionally photography itself-are our social interactions. representations inflected with racial tropes. In indeed,
Coco Fusco


01 Exhibitions Center

and Chiel Curator, 01 Photography


this book and exhibition, we argue that race and nation-and, fictions, cultural constructions

that shape

Associate Curator,

Prolessor, International

Columbia Center

University 01 Photography

If photographs are not inherently truthful

of identity, but must be read to find their meaning,

can a different reading of these images break down their distorting stereotypes? This is the central question posed by On/y Skin Deep. As with any undertaking of this scale, On/y Skin Deep: Changing Visions

oi the American

Se/f would not have happened without the


and involvement of many people. My first thanks go to project would not have

Coco Fusco, who graciously agreed to work with me as cocurator of this exhibition Without her, the multifaceted happened. For three years, she has pursued this task with characteristic enthusiasm and intelligence. Her probinq research and conceptual acumen have shaped this exhibition into one that demonstrates surprising historical and geographical breadth, and includes objects of remarkable aesthetic richness. I would also like to thank the board of the International Center want of Photography, led by Raymond J. McGuire, who has unwaveringly supported this challenging endeavor. On the staff, I particularly to thank Ehrenkranz Director Willis E. Hartshorn and Deputy Director for Programs Philip S. Block, who had the audacity to conceptualize this project in the first place and the perseverance to see it through. Assistant Curator Cynthia Fredette worked tirelessly and with great intellectual creativity on many aspects of project planning, and she served as curator of the On/y Skin Deep National Survey, an online comparuon exnibition that includes work by over 150 contemporary artists and photographers. Such exhibitions invariably involve thousands of details to coordinate; In this case, our great curatorial assistants, Carmen Higginbotham and Michelle-Lee White, deftly handled them. Registrar Barbara Woytowicz skillfully managed the loan and care of works from other collections; curatorial assistant Cynthia Young


loans from the Permanent


of the Internatlonal aspects

Center of Photography; and curatorial assistant Vanessa Rocco organized the exhibition tour and many other complicated of the project. Additional staff members at the International Center of Photography who were instrumental to the realization of On/y Skin Deep include:
Steve Rooney, Deputy Director for Finance; Annie LaRock, Deputy

Director for External Affairs; Mackarness Goode, Deputy Director for External Affairs; Marie Spiller, Director of Development; Poueymirou, Associate Director of Development; of Communications; Amy Phyllis Levine, Director

Suzanne Nicholas, Associate Director of Education; Karen Hansgen heroically engineered

and Lacy Austin, Coordinator of Community Programs. Publications Coordinator the complex production of this book, with the able assistance of Erin Barnett and Nola Tully. We are also grateful to ICP's editor Marion Kocot and to designer Bethany Johns for her extraordinary book designo Our deepest thanks go to editor Deborah Aaronson at Harry N. Abrams for the dedication she brought to this publication. And, of course, we thank all the authors whose writings in this book have strengthened the project as a scholarly intervention in the field of visual cultural studies by opening up new questions and areas of analysis. Many of the authors in this book were part of the On/y Skin Deep advisory team, who generously provided insights, contacts, and wonderful suggestlons for photographic works to see. For their critica' insights and support, we express our deep appreciation to the On/y Skin Deep Advisory Committee, chaired by Merry Foresta: Maurlce Berger, Susan Cahan, C. Ondine Chavoya, Thelma Golden, Karin Higa, Kellie Jones, Catherine Lord, Kobena MelTer, Nicholas Mirzoeff, James Moy, Aleta Ringlero, Caroline Vercoe, Ricardo Viera, Deborah Willis, and Fred Wilson. Many colleagues-curators, administrators, librarrans, archivists, scholars, arts generously assisted artists, and photographers-have

with the many loans to this exhibition. They are thanked individually elsewhere in this volume, but I wish to express here my deep personal appreciation for their time and collaboration. Finally, I wish to acknowledge with profound gratitude the invaluable exchanges with others that have helped me to understand how visual culture shapes our views of people in the world. In particular, I thank Kobena Mercer, Stuart Hall, Lucy Lippard, Thelma Golden, Okwui Enwezor, Robln Kelley, Carol Squlers, Tricia Rose, George Yudice, Maurice Berger, Jonathan Weinberg, Christopher Phillips, Andrew Ross, James Clifford, Miwon Kwon, Barbara KirschenblattGimblett, Maren Stange, Renee Green, Julie Ault, Michele Wallace,

Philomena Mariani, bell hooks, Allan Sekula, and Katherine Dieckmann This project is meant as a continuation understanding of those and many other dialogues, and hopefully it will contribute to a deeper of our identities, our positions, our differences, and our shared goals,-B.W.

Only Skin Deep: Changing


o! the American

Self could not have

come to fruition without the efforts of many people. I have benefited from support from other curators, museum staff, librarians, archivists, scholars, and artists throughout the United States. I would like to offer special thanks to the staff of the International particularly Center of Photography, and to curatorial assistants Carmen Higglnbotham

Michelle.Lee White, I would also like to thank my research assistants: Marcial GodoyAnativia, Marisol Martinez, Claire Tancons, and Alexandra Whitney, The Only Skin Deep advisory team, C. Ondine Chavoya, Karin Higa, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Aleta Ringlera, and Deborah WiIIIS, has generously provided insights, contacts, and made wonderful suggestions of photographic works, The essayists who have contributed original texts to the catalogue have strengthened the project as a scholarly intervention In the field of visual cultural studies. I am also greatly indebted to scholars James Faris, Lucy Lippard, Kellie Jones, Patricia Johnston, Jane Desmond, Lynn Davis, and Benito Vergara, And without the astute professional advice from Thelma Golden and Okwui Enwezor, I would not have been capable of envisioning aventure of this nature and scale The research for this exhibition took me on the road all over the United States and Puerto Rico to public and private collections
Skin Deep and graciously

I was

helped along the way by numerous people who took interest in Only led me to crucial materials and rasources. I would like to thank Carol Johnson at the Library of Congress, Paula Richardson Fleming and Jeanie Sklar at the National Anthropological Archives, Chester Cowan at the Oklahoma H istorical Society, Carolyn Davis at Syracuse Uriiver sit y's Department of Special Collections, Becky Simmons, Joseph Struble, and Rachel Stuhlman at the George Eastman House, DeSoto Brown and Deanne DuPont at the Bishop Museum, Robert Spindler at the Arizona State University Library, Kathleen Hubehschmidt at the Arizona State Museum, Susan Sheehan at the Arizona Historlcal Society, Tricia Loscher at the Heard Museum, Beth Ann Guynn at the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, Robert Sobieszek at the Los Angeles County Museum, Therese Babineau at the Phoebe A, Hearst Museum of Anthraplogy, Melissa Rountree at the Hallmark Collection,


Joseph Traugott at the Museum of New Mexico, Arthur Olivas at the Palace of the Governors In Santa Fe, Dlane Blrd at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Steve Thomas at the California Museum of Photography, and Harry Persaud atThe British Museum's Department of Ethnography. In Puerto Rico, I was assisted by Manmar Benitez, Haydee Venegas, Mercedes Trelles, and Michelle Marxuach, and in Hawaii, by Gaye Chan. Many of the ideas in this project emerged from a course I taught at the Tyler School of Art for five years called "Art, Race and the American Experience." I am grateful to my students there, whose questions and comments helped me to clarify my own thoughts on a complicated subject. I began working on the exhibition while I was on a junior faculty research leave from Temple University. loffer my special thanks to Rochelle Toner and Stanley Whitney for their constant support durinq my tenure at Tyler, and to Bruce Ferguson, Janet Wolff, Gary Okihiro, Farah Jasmine Griffin, and Kendall Thomas at Columbia University, whel"e I now teach, for their encouragement and assistance. My own curiosity about America's colonial archive was sparked by studying with Mary Pratt at Stanford University and subsequently nourished through dialogues with many artists and writers. Nearly two decades of invaluable conversations and collaborations with Black Brltlsh colleagues Isaac Julien, John Akomfrah, Hall have contributed Lina Gopaul,

Pervaiz Khan, Martina Attile, David Bailey, Kobena Mercer and Stuart to the development of a critical framework for understanding the images in the exhibition. I have also benefited immeasurably from more recent conversations with Ricardo Dominguez, Jennifer Gonzlez, Lisa Nakamura, and Maria Fernandez. Thanks to the generous resources provided by this project's many funders, partlcularly the National Endowment for the Arts, I was able to engage in extensiva primary research that would otherwise have been beyond my reach. More than any other venture I have been involved with, this exhibition has shown me how and why entire fields of inquiry go untouched, even though the need to broaden our understanding of American culture is widely recognized. My greatest hope for this projsct is that it can provide a resource for current and future students of American culture and photography.-c.F.