new-york

Justine Kurland

Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Behind images always lie other images, and the shadow of the visual archive falls heavily on photographs of the American West—partly because of the region’s role in the formation of America’s sense of itself, partly because Timothy O’Sullivan, Carleton Watkins, and others made not merely national but photographic history (hey! much more important) with the pioneering pictures they began to take there in the mid-nineteenth century. In the late 1970s, Mark Klett and other photographers explicitly recognized this doubleness of present and past through their work on the Rephotographic Survey Project, revisiting the sites of historic Western photographs to reshoot them in their present-day shape. Juxtaposing the old photos and the new ones pointed most obviously to a century of changes in the landscape, but also, in a more subterranean way, to shifts in identity and imagination.

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