Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University Announces Exhibition of Contemporary Cameraless Photography

The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University announces the exhibition Direct Contact: Cameraless Photography Now, on view February 16–July 9, 2023, in the Featured Exhibition Gallery.

Focusing on the material and tactile properties of the medium, Direct Contact: Cameraless Photography Now is the first contemporary survey to highlight the global practice of cameraless photography across generations, cultures, and ideologies. Referred to as photograms or contact prints, cameraless photographs are made using analogue photography’s foundational elements: light, chemistry, and light-sensitive surfaces.

Presenting recent work by more than forty artists–including Yto Barrada, Iñaki Bonillas, Ellen Carey, Hernease Davis, Sheree Hovsepian, Roberto Huarcaya, Kei Ito, Dakota Mace, Fabiola Menchelli, Lisa Oppenheim, Daisuke Yokota, among many others–Direct Contact highlights many emerging global artists and features primarily women-identifying artists. Unfolding across five sections–Age, Form, Scale, Texture, and Value–Direct Contact positions cameraless photography as both an intellectual cornerstone in the medium’s history and an enduring and important force within contemporary art.

The exhibition is curated by Assistant Curator of Photography, Lauren Richman, whose research on the museum’s Henry Holmes Smith Archive was facilitated by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Smith (American, 1909–1986) was a photography professor at Indiana University and an early proponent of cutting-edge photographic techniques, including cameraless photography. His students included Jerry Uelsmann, Jack Welpott, and Betty Hahn.

Of the exhibition, Lauren Richman, said, “I am thrilled to welcome such an expansive body of recent work to the Eskenazi Museum of Art. My hope is that Direct Contact will both surprise and delight our community, as well as challenge our museum visitors to think about the photographic medium in new and unexpected ways. My sincerest gratitude to the Henry Luce Foundation for making my research possible, and Martha and David Moore, Patrick and Jane Martin, and Jim and Joyce Grandorf for their continued support and generosity.”

The Eskenazi Museum of Art is committed to collecting work by women and artists of color. This exhibition has spurred a series of acquisitions of artwork by the featured artists, including Hernease Davis and Ellen Carey, which will diversify our collection of more than 22,000 works on paper and offer new opportunities for study in the museum’s Martha and David Moore Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Study.

“We are excited to present Direct Contact, which stems from research into one of the museum’s many important artist archives. The exhibition allows us to demonstrate both our ongoing efforts to diversify our collection through strategic acquisitions and a celebration of the innovative approaches to artmaking at Indiana University. I am grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for their generous support of Lauren’s position. And I extend my heartfelt thanks to Martha and David Moore for their help in making this exhibition possible,” said David A. Brenneman, Wilma E. Kelley Director, Eskenazi Museum of Art.

A full-color catalogue will accompany the exhibition and is supported in part by Martha and David Moore, Patrick and Jane Martin, and Jim and Joyce Grandorf.

About the Henry Luce Foundation

For more than 80 years, the Henry Luce Foundation has invested in knowledge makers and ensured that their work informs public discussion. This commitment to public knowledge derives from our founder: Henry R. Luce created Time magazine to disseminate the most important news, ideas, analysis, and criticism to a mass audience.

Today, the Luce Foundation carries on this work by supporting projects at universities, policy institutes, media organizations, and museums, among many others. What these organizations have in common is a commitment to putting knowledge in the hands of the individuals and communities that need access to it. Hundreds of organizations have received more than 5800 grants totaling more than $1 billion since the Foundation’s establishment in 1936.

Over that long history, the Foundation played critical roles in strengthening the field of Asian studies, encouraging interfaith dialogue, raising the visibility of American art in museums and in universities, and increasing participation by women in STEM research and teaching. We look forward to continuing our support of long-time areas of focus and to identifying new opportunities to strengthen public knowledge and understanding.

About the IU Eskenazi Museum of Art

Since its establishment in 1941, the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art has grown from a small university teaching collection into one of the most significant university art collections in the United States. A preeminent teaching museum on the Indiana University campus, its internationally acclaimed collection includes more than 45,000 objects representing nearly every art-producing culture throughout history from around the world.

The Eskenazi Museum of Art recently completed a $30 million renovation of its acclaimed I. M. Pei–designed building. The newly renovated museum is an enhanced teaching resource for Indiana University and southern Indiana. The museum is dedicated to engaging students, faculty, artists, scholars, alumni, and the wider public through the cultivation of new ideas and scholarship.

CONTACT: Mariah Keller, Director of Creative Services