Jeff Weber | The Brooklyn Rail

Image Storage Containers

Since 1994, Edward Steichen’s landmark exhibition The Family of Man has been on display at Clervaux Castle—an outpost of the Centre national de l'audiovisuel (CNA)—in northern Luxembourg. Between 2011 and 2013, these works underwent a campaign of conservation treatments that Luxembourger photographer Jeff Weber was invited to document. While such preservationist practices could be imagined as shoring up the ability of the photograph to serve as an objective arbiter of sociohistorical truths, the series of images that Weber captured instead illuminates the irony of repairing an image of mass destruction—the iconic photograph of an atomic mushroom cloud that Steichen used to close his exhibition—and more generally highlights the potential for the medium’s manipulation by way of its very conservation. 


Six of Weber’s photographs from the resulting series, titled “Untitled (Operation Ivy, Mike)” (2011–13), are now on view at the CNA in Dudelange as a part of his solo exhibition Image Storage Containers, curated by Michèle WalerichFrom what began as a purely documentarian project, something far more uncertain ultimately emerged: a body of work characterized by willing abstraction and ambiguity of subject. When photographed in a lived environment, outside of an exhibition setting, an artwork inevitably takes on new meanings through associations with objects and individuals both external to its frame and that of the gallery space. In “Operation Ivy” Weber thus necessitates a consideration of the inside and outside of the work, as well as the many actors that play upon its reception. [...]


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The Brooklyn Rail

September 16, 2023
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