The Memory of Time explores the work of twenty-six contemporary artists from across the world — Sophie Calle, Moyra Davey, Idris Khan, Sally Mann, Susan Meiselas, Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Carrie Mae Weems among them — who investigate the richness and complexity of photography’s relationship to time, memory, and history.
Unlike many mediums, photography possesses the remarkable ability to represent the past in the present, often cited as one of its essential characteristics. Yet, its relationship to the past is by no means straightforward. Many photographs seem to depict a singular moment in time, when in reality each image contains multiple layers: the instant of exposure, the moment of viewing, and the lapse in between.
From a shared fascination with photography’s past, including early techniques, to an engagement with the literal passage of time and the fleeting evidence of cultural change, these seventy-six works examine how photographs not only evoke our time and place but also create powerful visual histories of our relationship with the land, ourselves, and each other.
Sarah Greenough is senior curator and head of the department of photographs and Andrea Nelson is assistant curator in the department of photographs at the National Gallery of Art. Contributors include Sarah Kennel and Diane Waggoner, associate curators, and Leslie J. Ure?a, curatorial research associate, all in the department of photographs at the National Gallery of Art.