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Hypervisibility: Early Photography and Privacy in North America, 1839–1900

May 3–August 3, 2024
University Gallery
Guest Curators: Sarah Parsons and Frances Dorenbaum

Given the current ubiquity of cameras and the broad circulation of photographs in this digital age, photography can be understood as a threat to privacy. But even in its earliest forms—from daguerreotypes, cartes de visite, and stereographs to commercial advertising—the medium triggered both excitement and concerns about heightened visibility. Photography carried various risks and rewards based on gender, race, class, and disability. This exhibition considers some of those aspects as it traces the fascinating interrelated and overlooked histories of photography and privacy in the nineteenth century.

Fig. 1

City of New York, William C. Murray and Ada Shreve, 1873, poster. Courtesy of the Nova Scotia Archives