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Indrė Šerpytytė, 27 Vilniaus Street, Alytus, 2014, gelatin silver print, 19 3/8 × 24 1/8". From the series “(1944–1991) Former NKVD-MVD-MGB-KGB Buildings,” 2009–15. From “Ocean of Images,” 2015–16.

“Ocean of Images”

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

Indrė Šerpytytė, 27 Vilniaus Street, Alytus, 2014, gelatin silver print, 19 3/8 × 24 1/8". From the series “(1944–1991) Former NKVD-MVD-MGB-KGB Buildings,” 2009–15. From “Ocean of Images,” 2015–16.

“Photography is a system of visual editing,” wrote John Szarkowski, MoMA’s long-presiding chief curator of photography. “At bottom, it is a matter of surrounding with a frame a portion of one’s cone of vision, while standing in the right place at the right time.” The belief that photography comes down to finding a spot in the landscape guided Szarkowki’s selections for “New Photography,” the annual showcase he inaugurated in 1985, and it continued to hold sway in the installments organized under his successor, Peter Galassi. Quentin Bajac, the department’s latest chief curator, broke with the Szarkowski era by rebooting “New Photography” as a biannual exhibition and titling its recent edition “Ocean of Images.” Photography, it would seem, no longer stands on firm ground.

That “ocean,” of course, consists of snaps, selfies, scans, screenshots, profile pics, memes, and other image

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