Watchful Eyes: The Gaze in Contemporary Photography July 14 — August 31, 2000

Watchful Eyes (The Gaze in Contemporary Photography). Ever since the invention of photography, people have been captured on film. Whether sitting for a formal portrait, posing in front of an historical marker, vacationing with friends or caught in intimate moments, people have always revealed themselves via a flirtatious look, an intent stare, an admiring glance or distrustful glare. "Watchful Eyes: The Gaze in Contemporary Photography" explores the act of looking -- how an expression can and does translate. Because a gaze can invite, insinuate and reveal, it can also conceal, challenge and contemplate. Included in the show is the self-portrait work of John Dugdale, Nan Goldin, Duane Michals and Lucas Samaras who invite us into a world which divulges as much as it questions. In full control of their own image, these artists share intimate, often disturbing glimpses of their lives, exposing their vulnerabilities. This self-gaze is contemplative and reflective, as the viewer gains a brief understanding of the person as an artist and an individual. In contrast to the intimate gaze is the imagery of Shelby Lee Adams, Sally Mann, Jack Spencer and Jock Sturges, whose photographs show people looking directly into the camera, gazing with an intense purpose. Whether challenging or inviting, these photographs turn the gaze outwardly, as the subjects look at the viewer with both affection and distance. This directed gaze is as unsettling as it is tempting because we see into the eyes of strangers, trying to get past their external veneer. Yet another perspective on the gaze is that of the photographer as voyeur, capturing stolen moments on film, often without the full consent or knowledge of the subjects. The works of Merry Alpern, Laura Letinksy, Andrea Modica and Nic Nicosia take the viewer into worlds without limits, exposing intimate details of other people's lives. Whether real or created, these photographs present private information to the public, as we gaze at people unaware of the camera's presence. "Watchful Eyes" presents images of people who share their lives through a glance, gesture or gaze, whether known or stolen. Through these images, we gain a greater understanding about how we see others and ourselves. real and remembered.


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