Square America

A few days ago Linda sent me the link to a site called Square America: Snapshots & Vernacular Photography. Considering I really need to be finalizing my course outlines this week, I’ve spent far too much time looking through the various galleries here. This is an amazing website! The focus is on amateur, everyday photography and the stories these photographs can tell. Many of the images have been purchased in flea markets or on e-bay. I think the rupture between the sense of personal intimacy and memory-making that prompted the making of the photograph in the first place and the lack of information we have when we view pictures on a website like this is simply fascinating. These kinds of images are so familiar to so many of us, yet as we look at them they sometimes raise more questions than answers. In my visual culture and history of photography classes I always try to emphasize the point that imagery can hold so many different meanings depending upon the context in which an image is viewed in. I also like to encourage students to think about personal uses of images, both in their own lives but also in history. These types of images have been so often neglected by art history, which is a shame. As the site’s owner says, “Not only do these photographs contain a wealth of primary source information on how life was lived they also constitute a shadow history of photography, one too often ignored by museums and art galleries.”


Image credit: this photograph is from the “At the Window” gallery
(Square America)

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