We Are Who We Are Wherever We May Be, Curated by Aleksandar Hemon and Teri Boyd

Photography teaches us: there is no space but human space. There are no human bodies outside space. We are who we are wherever we may be. Baruch de Spinoza: “The more an image is joined with other images, the more often it flourishes.” The more a body is joined with other bodies, the more it flourishes. There is no body without a human gaze. There is no photography without the body.

There is no photograph without a gaze—going in, coming out. We look at photographs, they return the gaze. Roland Barthes. “The effect it produces upon me is not to restore what has been abolished (by time, by distance) but to attest that what I see has indeed existed.” If Photography shows what has existed, the gaze is connected to the mystical. Wittgenstein: “It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists.”

How can you know that those people existed? (Descartes: “…and yet what do I see from the window beyond hats and cloaks that might cover artificial machines, whose motions might be determined by springs?”) They look at us, we look back. Barthes: “In Photography I can never deny that the thing has been there.” Where? Where is there? There is the time. The photograph is the space.

We want to keep looking at the people in the photographs (the photographer included), for there is always desire to know them, to know more. The people in the photos: where are they now? Nowhere, except in the photos. Every photograph is a certificate of presence (Barthes) and a document of absence.


Museum of Contemporary Photography

at Columbia College Chicago
600 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605

(312) 663-5554
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The MoCP is CLOSED when Columbia College Chicago is closed, including all major holidays. The MoCP is also closed between exhibitions for installation. Be sure to check our homepage before your visit.

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