Q&A with Lisa Hostetler – Part II

Posted by on Dec 27 2013 | Behind The Scenes, Photography

This month, Lisa Hostetler, PhD, joined the Eastman House staff as Curator-in-Charge of the Department of Photography. This is Part II of a recent conversation with Hostetler about the current state of photography, her interests in the medium, and her plans for working with the Eastman House collection. Click here to read Part 1!

LisaH

GEH: Which artists’ or era’s photography have been most formative in the way you approach (or consider) the medium?
LH: I’ve always been particularly intrigued by street photography of the 1940s and ’50s. I wrote my dissertation on Louis Faurer, and the exhibition and book Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940–1959 grew out of my research on that project.

Street Seen focused on the work of six artists—Faurer, Lisette Model, Saul Leiter, Ted Croner, William Klein, and Robert Frank—whose work conveyed the subjective edge that sliced through American art during the war and immediate postwar years. The raw power of their images is unforgettable, and the unique combination of brashness and vulnerability that characterized the best postwar street photography spoke volumes about the anxieties and aspirations that pervaded society during that period. The way that those photographers’ work conveyed a personal vision of the world while collectively suggesting something fundamental about the nature of everyday life in the 1940s and ’50s taught me a lot. It showed me that photography can be a private aesthetic journey and a socially significant activity at the same time, and that paying attention to both aspects of a photographer’s work is a profoundly rewarding way to consider his or her accomplishments.

William Klein (American, b. 1928). Gun 2, near the Bowery, New York, 1955, printed 1985. Gelatin silver print. George Eastman House. Museum purchase: Lila Acheson Wallace Fund.

William Klein (American, b. 1928). Gun 2, near the Bowery, New York, 1955, printed 1985. Gelatin silver print. George Eastman House. Museum purchase: Lila Acheson Wallace Fund.

GEH: What photograph or body of work have you experienced recently that surprised you, and in what way?
LH: Lately, I’ve been noticing that traditional photographic processes seem to be attracting a number of young photographers, who experiment with materials as they explore what is gained and what might be lost in the transition from analog to digital photography. I’m very excited about this work and look forward to seeing how this trend continues to develop.

GEH: To what extent do you see cinema and photography as reciprocal media? How do they influence each other?
LH: I see photography and cinema as related media in that they both have complex relationships to realism and to narrative. My favorite photographers and filmmakers often confound popular assumptions about their medium, especially when those assumptions involve the expectation of documentary truth or linear storytelling. That said, I think the urge to believe what we see in a photograph is practically a part of human nature by now, and the desire for a film to tell a story is equally strong. There is value in satisfying those instincts as well as in questioning them.

Photographers and filmmakers have been influenced by each other throughout history. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues in the motion picture department to explore those connections and tease out their broader significance.

GEH: What aspects of the George Eastman House collections are you most looking forward to bringing to the public?
LH: At this point, I’m still looking forward to learning what all is in the collection! With over 400,000 objects, I have a lot of looking to do and many plans to make. I can’t wait to share what I find with the public. Also, I will be working with museum staff to make our entire photography collection searchable online, so that people can make their own discoveries as well.

 

Rachel Pikus is the Manager of Online Engagement at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

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Q&A with Lisa Hostetler – Part I

Posted by on Dec 26 2013 | Behind The Scenes, Photography

This month, Lisa Hostetler, PhD, joined the Eastman House staff as Curator-in-Charge of the Department of Photography. We recently spoke with Hostetler about the current state of photography, her interests in the medium, and her plans for working with the Eastman House collection.

LisaH

GEH: What made you decide that joining us at George Eastman House was the right decision for you?
Lisa Hostetler: The opportunity to shape the future development of one of the world’s best photography collections was a key factor. The depth and variety of Eastman House’s holdings is impressive, and its legacy of important exhibitions— such as New Topographics—has made the institution an important player in the history of photography.

I want to build on this excellent foundation while working to raise the institution’s profile both nationally and internationally. In order to do this, I will focus on building a dynamic program that activates the collection, brings it up-to-date, and presents it in compelling ways. At the same time, I plan to support the development of new ideas and new voices in the field through temporary exhibitions and publications.

For me, the prospect of doing both historical and contemporary projects was especially appealing, as I’ve always been fascinated with all eras of photography’s history.

GEH: What do you think the role of photography collections and museums is today, given the medium’s ubiquity in our culture?
LH: Photography museums have an important role to play as our culture becomes increasingly saturated with photographic images. In this environment, visual literacy is essential, and good photographs hone our ability to see clearly and understand the world’s complexity. Photographers spend their lives thinking about seeing and com- municating their ideas, and we have a lot to learn from them. By preserving and exhibiting their work, photography museums allow audiences to benefit from their experience. In addition, sometimes a photograph’s scale and physical presence are as telling as its imagery, and museum collections are vital for preserving access to the insights original objects offer.

GEH: How does that affect what we should collect and exhibit?
LH: These factors directly inform collection and exhibition activities. We need to maintain our connection to photography’s history—where it’s been both materially and conceptually— in order to truly understand and appreciate its current situation. I hope to pursue acquisitions and exhibitions that have meaning in the present, but that are informed by an understanding of the past and open to future possibilities.

Read Part II of this Q&A!

 

Rachel Pikus is the Manager of Online Engagement at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

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Instagram Takeover

Posted by on Dec 11 2013 | Other

Last week, we decided to change things up a bit on Instagram. Taking a break from our own behind-the-scenes photos from around the museum, we handed over the keys to visiting artists Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman for our first Instagram Takeover.

A few days before their lecture as part of our Wish You Were Here series, the takeover week began with Larson and Shindelman posting photos and videos related to trending hashtags.

Eastman House Instagram

Eastman House Instagram

As the week went on, Larson and Shindelman used our Instagram account to document their travels to Eastman House for their lecture on December 5.

Eastman House Instagram

Eastman House Instagram

And when they arrived at the museum, they captured many scenes from deep inside the Department of Photography.

Eastman House Instagram

Eastman House Instagram

In the end, the takeover was a great success! It gave our followers an opportunity not only to engage with contemporary artists connected to the museum, but also to experience a unique view of Eastman House! To see all of their photos, follow us on Instagram at instagram.com/EastmanHouse

Thanks to Nate and Marni for testing out this new concept. Stay tuned in January for our next takeover by a photographer currently featured in our exhibition Astro-Visions.

Rachel Pikus is the Manager of Online Engagement at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

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Too Much Johnson U.S. Premiere Preview

Posted by on Oct 16 2013 | Motion Pictures, Other

Last Wednesday, October 9, staged the long awaited world premiere of Too Much Johnson at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto Silent Film Festival in Pordenone, northern Italy. As a long time attendee of the festival, fan of the work of Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre, and having had the honor to work at the preservation of Too Much Johnson, it was hard for me to stay away from Le Giornate this year. So I took the opportunity to travel to my native Italy and enjoy the event.

It is difficult to think about a better venue for the first screening of this long-believed- to-be-lost 1938 slapstick silent film. Not only is Pordenone  the city hosting the world’s leading international silent film festival, defined by its aficionados as “the best film festival in the world,” but it is the very same place where a nitrate print of Too Much Johnson was recently discovered and brought out of the shadows. The inventive pen of a novelist could have hardly created a happier – and more surprising – ending.

When lights went off on Wednesday evening in a packed Teatro Giuseppe Verdi, an international audience of film scholars, historians, archivists, and simply film lovers, joined for the occasion by a varied crowd of journalists and Welles enthusiasts, was finally able to enjoy the explosion of vitality brought on the screen by the whole group of the Mercury Theatre and in particular by the stunning performance of young and extremely promising Joseph Cotten.

TMJ-Pordenone-11

Images on screen were accompanied by an English live commentary by Paolo Cherchi Usai, Senior Curator of George Eastman House Motion Picture Department, introducing the audience to the world of Too Much Johnson. The commentary, integrating research conducted by the Motion Picture Department during the past few months, seems to pave the way for a new mode of presenting images that have reached us in a somewhat raw state, and consequently might need to be contextualized to be fully appreciated by an audience. And the audience of the festival was well aware of the privilege of being the first ever seeing Too Much Johnson, since the film was never completed by Orson Welles and shown in public before.

TMJ Pordenone 4

No wonder that request for tickets was so high that the festival organizers had to add to the calendar two extra screenings with Italian live commentary provided by Paolo Cherchi Usai and myself. All three screenings of Too Much Johnson have been accompanied at the piano by Phil Carli, with music especially composed for the film.

Tonight’s U.S. Premiere at George Eastman House will bring again on stage a unique combination of images, music and expert commentary. Something to definitely be looking forward to.

 

Daniela Currò is a Preservation Officer in the Motion Picture Department at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Join Us This Saturday At The Photo Finish 5K

Posted by on Sep 30 2013 | Other

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This Saturday, October 5 is George Eastman House’s 3rd annual Photo Finish 5K. As a runner and Eastman House’s newest employee, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this race because the event is far from your typical 5K. If you haven’t registered yet, here are five reasons why you should consider joining us at the starting line Saturday morning:

1. 65+ Charities Represented

This race is about Mr. Eastman’s wish to make Rochester the healthiest and best place in the world to live and work. In just two years this event has raised over half a million dollars for more than 60 area non-profits. This year, more than 80 teams have registered and raised $140K+ for more than 65 organizations and they are still going strong. You can still join one of the existing teams, or start your own!

2. 3.1 Miles of Beautiful Scenery

Whether you are a walker, runner, or supporter, this course through the Neighborhood of the Arts never disappoints. Starting and ending at Eastman House, the course is designed to bring you by many other great Rochester organizations including the Memorial Art Gallery, Red Cross, School of the Arts, Visual Studies Workshop, Boy Scouts of America, and the Rochester Museum and Science Center.

3. Prizes For Speed AND Philanthropy

There really is something for everyone when participating in the Photo Finish 5K.

  • If speed is your thing, first, second, and third place male and female prizes will be given in 8 age categories. In addition, top male and female finishers receive $100 to go to his/her favorite charity.
  • If fundraising is more your strength, teams that raise the most money for their chosen non-profit will win EXTRA prize money based on five different categories.
  • And if you show up on race day with the most spirit, there is a very special prize for that, too, called the Crosby Spirit Prize.

 4. Post-Race Activities

Crossing the finish line is just the beginning of the fun. Your race registration gives you access to FREE post-race activities at Eastman House including admission to the Museum, food and drinks, massages from Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage, and a photo booth to capture shots of you and your friends.

5. 5K Cultural Pass

Your Photo Finish 5K entry also includes something that no other race has, a Cultural Pass for one free admission to some of Rochester’s cultural gems, including the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House, the Memorial Art Gallery, the Rochester Museum and Science Center, the Strasenburg Planetarium, and the Rochester Philharminic Orchestra. What a better way to celebrate your support for the Rochester community!

Ways to get involved…

Register to walk/run here: http://photofinish5k.eastmanhouse.org/

And if you are looking for ways to support Eastman House, please check out the following teams raising money for various projects around the Museum:

 

 

Rachel Pikus is the Manager of Online Engagement at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

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