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The Origins of the Wall Accessory (1)

There was an official designation for the entire object (image plus mat plus backing board plus frame) which I held in my hands, and the appropriate nomenclature was right there in big letters on a white label pasted to the back. “WALL ACCESSORY,” it said, just like that, and in a flash I knew that I had found not just a bargain but a metaphor. […]

Dirty Pictures: The Curator Meets the Censors

To my surprise, I’ve ended up appreciating this film. It’s distant enough in time to take a measured, meditative look at this cultural moment. The Culture Wars constituted one of the rare moments in American history in which photographs and photography took center stage in the national consciousness. It was the medium’s most “teachable moment” to date. If I wanted to take a class of students back to that moment, to teach it myself again today some two decades down the line, I might well start with this movie. […]