On DisplayBy Seth Simon
The items found on display at museums, historic sites or even roadside attractions document moments in our shared social history that we wish to preserve. A curator might choose to exhibit an object in order to educate, inspire or even to shock. Once an item is placed on display however, it takes on an entirely different life as the viewer detects his or her own personal meaning in what is presented. Factors such as lighting, positioning or context can make an object appear much different than intended.
In my photographic work over the last five years, it is this “scene within a scene” that I search for. This can mean isolating elements such as a mannequin’s odd expression or a wildly misplaced object like a gun in an exhibit celebrating “Peace”. The curator had one vision of what they wished to present, but very often the viewer, due to their own personal history or exhibition circumstances can walk away with a totally different reaction than what was hoped for.
All of my photographs are taken with vintage film cameras as I seek the “warmer” tone that I feel that older glass lenses provide. I only use existing light to alter each scene as little as possible. Prints are minimally manipulated and cropped. I hope that the subject, natural existing light and framing alone will reproduce the scene that intrigued me, in the viewer’s mind.
SUBMARINER - Historical Display, Submarine Force Museum, Groton, CT
CAPTAIN DARK - Sailing Captain, Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT
CRAZED - Antique Dolls, Space Farms Zoo and Museum, Sussex, NJ
JACKAL - Taxidermy, Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, MA
PEACEFUL ARMS - Rifle Display, Space Farms Museum, Sussex, NJ
RUNNER - Greek Statuary, Museo Centrale Montemartini, Rome, Italy
SIR - Ship Figurehead, South Street Seaport Museum, New York, NY
SKIRT - WIndow Mannequin at Night, San Diego, CA
TILT - Cigar Store Figure, Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic CT
WATCHING - Store Sign at Night, San Diego, CA