Issue 23 — Summer 2000
Although we might prefer to believe otherwise there is no getting away from the fact that a lot of photographs end up in institutions. There they are catalogued, put to work and occasionally sold off to whoever can afford them. This issue takes a systematic overview of the different ways a photograph can inhabit an institution.
Photographs can be changed by the institutions that hold them. Jennifer Grigg has been to museums, public galleries and archives to find out how they regard the photographs that come there way (or don't) and what they do with them. Justin Carville has been to see the RTE archive to find out what use a broadcaster can make of photographs and Siún Hanrahan has been speaking to the Kerlin gallery who sell them. Some of the photographs they sell are reviewed by Niamh Ann Kelly, in this case the Sugimoto exhibition, Architecture Series. One of the people that buys photographs, (though not from the Kerlin) John Osman, has recently exhibited his collection in Fermanagh and this is also reviewed; giving us a contrast perhaps, between the people that sell photographs and the people that like to collect them.
A place where photographs are scrutinised with a particularly unforgiving eye is the courts. Sean Doran explains the limited circumstances under which the legal process would admit photographs as evidence and describes the unusual role of photography in the current Bloody Sunday inquiry which has used digital simulations to assist the search for the truth.
The photographs we publish in this issue also deal obliquely with institutions in one way or another. Karl Grimes has photographed the dioramas in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Mary McIntyre's shows us generic institutional spaces and Jamie Davis has been to Irish clubs in Britain to record these homes from home. We start however with Anthony Haughey's portraits of people in CCTV offices, the faces, behind 'Big Brother'.
Meanwhile a restaurant has recently opened in Belfast with a photograph of a caged bird by Paul Seawright from his series The Missing, or as the Belfast Telegraph restaurant critic had it, 'A huge abstract painting of an old woman and a canary'.
— The Editors