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Barbara Probst: Exposures

December 6, 2008 – March 8, 2009


Barbara Probst: Exposures is comprised of groupings of two to six large-format photographs from the Exposures series, which the artist began in 2000 and continues to expand. By showing a single action in photographs taken simultaneously from different points of view, Probst illustrates the myriad ways in which a moment can be depicted, and by extension, experienced.

Photographs on view in Exposures were captured through a complex system of radio controls, synchronized cable releases and, occasionally, other photographers. Probst uses both color and black-and-white film to capture events—some seemingly commonplace, others obviously staged—that she carefully choreographs. In Exposure #39, for example, two photographs depict the same woman at exactly the same moment but in very different ways. On one side, a color image captures her as she strides through a bucolic, alpine landscape. On the other, a black-and-white picture reveals the color photograph to be an illusion: the woman is actually on the rooftop of a New York skyscraper, moving in front of a backdrop depicting an idyllic mountain scene.

This work, like others in the exhibition, “invites us to engage in a game of comparing and contrasting the locations of the cameras and photographers who took them,” says Karen Irvine, who curated the exhibition for the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago. “Despite the proximity of the cameras and the simultaneity of their exposures, the resulting images are extremely diverse in style, atmosphere, and content, concretely demonstrating that photographs are highly selective interpretations of reality. As her pictures subvert one another, they unsettle our faith in the idea of any sort of photographic ‘truth,’ ultimately revealing the medium’s profound capacity to tell stories—and our propensity to believe them.”

Jane Simon, MMoCA’s Curator of Exhibitions, says, “Probst’s works reflect images of everyday life, but their process and format ask us to question the nature of photography in the digital age. Interestingly, although the technology reflects both the past and the present, the images have a timeless, poignant quality.”

Exhibition Support

Barbara Probst: Exposures was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Photography Columbia College Chicago. The publication of Barbara Probst: Exposures was supported by the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation and co-published by Steidl and the MoCP.

The Wisconsin presentation of Barbara Probst: Exposures has been generously supported by the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation and the Overture Foundation; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts; and the Art League of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

First Fridays at MMoCA are generously sponsored by Newcomb Construction Co.; J.P. Cullen & Sons, Inc.; and Isthmus|