Artist Images on Artstor. But you should definitely go see them yourself.
My notes on the exhibit:
WCMA's exhibit: "Beyond the Familiar" draws together the photographic and literal works of ten artist-ethnographers. Each artist had his or her own approach to the problem of depicting an entire society through images of a few. The exhibit poses some perplexing and exciting questions about representing identity.
Felice Beato took pictures of Japanese types pre-Meiji Restoration period (1868-1912) but published and sold them afterwards because there was nostalgia for the way it used to be. He used actors because they were more visually appealing, and could hold poses for longer. He provided them with costumes and told them how to stand. Was there conversation between the artist and the actors. Were the actors acting their culture as they saw it, or merely modeling for the curious European. The west was fascinated with Japan, and Beato's images sold like coffee-table books.
Peter Henry Emerson took pictures of "East Anglican Life" in the naturalistic style, which, at the time, was very counter-cultural. His goal was to preserve images as the eye saw them. For this reason, he caused his photos to have a sharp focal point, with a more blurred background. He destroyed all his negatives so no one could ever look at his work the wrong way.
Edward Curtis made it his life's work to record the life and culture of Native Americans (he wanted to photograph every single tribe before he died). He saw them as one of the earth's noble races that was fading too quickly. In "the North American Indian" ((underline)), he writes "Nature tells the story, and in Nature's simple words I can but put it before the reader" (xiv) Yet, as time went by and consumer culture crept in to taint the traditional Indian's way of life, Curtis took to taking costumes to dress his subjects in, and editing out clocks and tractors from his photos. He often also used "cultural items" in the wrong contexts.
"The words of the children and the lovers are unknown to me, but the story of childhood and love need no interpreter"
August Sander sought to "chronicle a societal hierarchy" in Germany in his book "People of the Twentieth Century" (1904-1930). He separated Germans into classes by occupation. He looked for truth in his work, so he moved away from an aesthetic portrait to straight photography.
Aaron Siskind was a white American who photographed public life in Harlem at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. His photos appeared in 1981 with words from African American writers describing intimate moments.
Robert Frank photographed The Americans between 1955 and 56. His goal, as he stated it in his application to the Guggenheim Foundation, was to reveal a truth that "will nullify explanation." He abandoned photography for film. It was satiric, ironic, a not-so-naturalized Swiss-American.
David Goldblatt in 1975 compiled a number of his portraits into "Some Afrikaaners Photographed." Very frank in apartheid South Africa, the photos appeared without captions. Goldblatt's study was motivatd by a desire to understand South Africa. Environment and landscape was just as important to him as the people.
Barbara Norfleet wanted to explore the lives of the privileged upper class in the United States. Her photos of people from all along the East Coast strove to capture individualities that indicate a shared experience. She wanted to avoid typecasting her subjects. "All the Right People" 1986
Tina Barney photographed The Europeans in huge negatives, requiring her to compose the image. The grand size follows from a desire to show the details of the usually hidden lives of the aristocracy. She doesn't allow her photographs to be shown in any other size. What does that imply about her? About all artists? What if we looked at these series as studies of the artists instead of of the people in the photos. What if they are also watching and calculating, just like Isak in Kitchen Stories? She also received funding from the Guggenheim foundation. She lives in Watch Hill RI!!!!!!!!!!!! "jealousy and admiration, mistrust and understanding, ignorance and familiarity." - America Against the World by Andrew Kohut.
Zwelethu Mthethwa aims to display the pride of the South Africans (all black) he photographs by displaying the way they decorate their houses. A form of their self-expression. He visited their homes, talked to them and told them about his project and then would return later so theat they could tidy up and present their homes the way they wanted to.
Lendvai-Dirksen wanted to prove the superiority of the Aryan race.