The new International Center of Photography Museum opened at 250 Bowery this Thursday with an audacious, unsettling bang — “Public, Private, Secret,” its inaugural show, features 150 works of art that show how the digital revolution has democratized, banalized and scandalized photography and turned us all into voyeurs as we are simultaneously surveilled.
The museum’s new home is modern, fresh and meshes appealingly with the opening exhibition’s theme: 90 feet of glass frontage allows pedestrians and patrons to peep each other, blending the borders between in and outsider.
A Maman café on the first floor complements the communal seating that encourages interaction in the public space which will also accommodate lectures.
Lights in the downstairs gallery that resemble zoom lenses illuminate both the art and the patrons. An “all gender restroom” is clearly marked for all.
Joining The New Museum of Contemporary Art at 235 Bowery, the new ICP Museum solidifies the once gritty area as an important new destination for art connoisseurs and afficionados.
“Public, Private, Secret” is a brave and troubling opening act, capturing “the seismic shift that has happened in the world of photography,” as a result of the digital revolution, as ICP’s executive director Mark Lubell, explained.
What are we to make of photography now that everyone is a photographer, cameras are ubiquitous, and even adolescents are curating their own digital “brands” via relentlessly narcissistic self-documentation?
Yes, there are Kardashians: One installation, “Selfish,” by Kim Kardashian, is a slideshow depicting the book of her selfies turning page by page. There are numerous works of ongoing, ever-changing social media feeds, one featuring all the variously desperate and preening posts from people attempting to engage with the young stars of YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.
“It’s a visual proximity play for fame,” explained Mark Ghuneim, a curator of this installation and others: “If I’m 20 or younger, my life has changed: I just saw the biggest celebrity in the world!” he exclaimed.
“Morality Tales” is another installation showing a real time stream of images of people in the news for acts of questionable morality such as Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who claimed to be African American, Martin Shkreli, the biotech exec who hiked the price of his firm’s drugs to heights patients couldn’t afford, Nick Denton, the owner of Gawker (“he’s so meta!” Ghuneim exclaimed) which was sued by Hulk Hogan for publishing a sex tape involving the wrestler, and various athletes accused of drug use and sex crimes.
“I had to build an algorithm to get (Donald) Trump out of there,” because if he didn’t “he would dominate,” the entire feed, Ghuneim explained.
Lubell said that unlike some museums, which have banned the use of selfie sticks in galleries, ICP would welcome them. “I don’t have a problem with people taking pictures,” Lubell said.
If you go:
“Public, Private, Secret” opened Thursday at The ICP Museum, 250 The Bowery and runs through Jan.8. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Sundays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with extended hours Thursday nights until 9 p.m.
Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students. Children 14 and under accompanied by an adult can enter for free and people can pay what they wish Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.