Image Storage Containers
Exhibition: 6 May – 1 Oct 2023
Sat 6 May 11:00
CNA Centre national de l'audiovisuel
1b, rue du Centenaire
In 2012, Jeff Weber reproduced a box identical to the one in which the small-scale photographic prints from the exhibition The Family of Man were sheltered from the light, while undergoing restoration. He proceeded to take close-ups of this object, both frontally and under different lighting conditions, then reframed six of the resulting photographs and combined them in a grid, in a serial composition entitled Image Storage Containers.
This marks a sharp contrast to the pharaonic project of the The Family of Man exhibition, where the director of MoMA’s department of photography, Edward Steichen, promoted the "visionary" aspect of the photography of his fellow human beings – and the ideal propaganda tool of a supposedly timeless universalism, charged with nationalist fervor.
The seriality of Image Storage Containers condenses, soberly and radically, two moments of the myth of photography as a "universal language". In the first, the medium performs a communion of all humanity under the auspices of American imperialism. In the second, the recording of light variations on a simple work tool produces a neutral, uncluttered composition.
Image Storage Containers folds a grandiose ideological enterprise into the codes of objectivity of conceptual photography, but above all, inside the shelves of a practical restoration tool. Sensitivity, the material condition of the analogue print, this fragility which is part of life, takes precedence over the folklore of emotions or formal games.
Text by Marie Muracciole: excerpt from WITH from the catalogue Serial Grey - Jeff Weber, published by Roma Publications, in collaboration with Carré d’Art Nîmes and CNA, 2021
In a series of six photographs, artist Jeff Weber documents the restoration process undertaken on the large "Ivy Mike" hydrogen bomb test photo, carried out by Studio Berselli of Milan as part of a general restoration of The Family of Man between 2011 and 2013 under the auspices of the Centre national de l’audiovisuel (CNA), where the exhibition has been on permanent display since 1994.
Outside of the delicious paradox presented by documenting a restoration process conducted on an image depicting destruction on a monumental scale, Weber, an artist notable for an interest in blurring what can properly be considered inside or outside a work of art, has described his motivation as a move to contextualize The Family of Man within the era of its creation—the Cold War and nuclear arms race. So contextualized, his photographs of the restoration process become both an antithetical representation of the exhibition and an uncannily accurate depiction of the pervasive political atmosphere in which it traveled.
- Text by Michel Baers: excerpt from All That Is Solid Melts into Light, 2022.
Jeff Weber, born 1980 in Luxembourg, lives and works in New York (USA).
More information: jeffweber.be