Since the 19th century, photography has been used to capture nature in its various forms. Photographers accompanied explorers and scientists to document the wonders they discovered. Nowadays, artists’ eyes guide us to peer at our intimate emotions and public concerns about the changing world and the life it holds.
Together with the Long Now Foundation, swissnex San Francisco invites audiences to hear from two photographers with unique relationships to nature, Rachel Sussman and Mario Del Curto, in a conversation moderated by SFMOMA photography curator Corey Keller.
In Sussman’s The Oldest Living Things in the World, she researches and works with biologists globally to photograph continuously living organisms 2,000 years old and older. Del Curto’s photographs similarly explore nature, but his are seen through the lens of humankind, both man’s interest in controlling, nurturing, and representing nature as well as man’s relationship to nature through archiving.
Mario Del Curto
Lausanne-based photographer Mario Del Curto started documenting social unrest in the 1970s and 1980s, which led to the publication of the book Suisse en movement with Philippe Maeder and Armand Deriaz. He soon became an independent photographer and commenced his stage work, particularly in the realm of theater and dance. Del Curto’s photographs are exhibited in several international galleries and museums, in particular the Musee de l’Elysee and the Art Brut Collection in Lausanne, Switzerland, of which he is a member of the Advisory Committee. He is also a consultant and associate curator of several exhibitions and festivals. Today, the scope of his work extends beyond the artistic genre and includes transdiscplinary projects.
Corey Keller is curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), where she has organized a number of critically acclaimed exhibitions, including Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840–1900 (2008), an exhibition that explored the use of photography in nineteenth-century science. More recently, she organized the major retrospective exhibition of the photographer Francesca Woodman (2011), which traveled to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. She also organized the much discussed symposium “Is Photography Over?” in 2010 and participated as a panelist Keller oversees Picturing Modernity, SFMOMA’s ongoing presentation of its world-class photography collection. In addition to authoring several SFMOMA publications, Keller has contributed scholarly essays to the exhibition catalogues Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change (Corcoran Gallery of Art, 2010) and Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, 2012), among others. Keller is currently working on a traveling exhibition of the nineteenth-century photographer J.B. Greene.
Previously, Keller has held curatorial positions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She was a doctoral candidate in art history at Stanford University (ABD), where she also received her master’s degree in art history. She holds a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Yale University and attended Spéos (Paris Photographic Institute).
Rachel Sussman, b. 1975, grew up in Baltimore, punctuated by stints in Santa Fe and Nicoya, Costa Rica. She received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in 1998 and has been awarded artist's residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Cooper Union, and Vermont Studio Center. She is currently a member of the Macdowell Fellows Executive Committee and was named Evelyn Stefansson Nef Fellow in 2005. In 2007, she served as Thomas P. Johnson Distinguished Visiting Artist at Rollins College.
Over the past 10 years Sussman has exhibited in the US and Europe. New York venues include the Museum of Natural History, Jen Bekman Gallery, Christie's, New Century Artists, Pierogi, Momenta, Artists Space, Cue Art Foundation and Galapagos Art Space. Her work has also been shown at the LA Design Center, University of Pennsylvania and Vox Populi in Philadelphia, Photography 2005 at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, Stenersenmuseet in Norway, D21 Kunstraum, Pierogi Liepzig, as well as Artnews Projects and Galerie Engler & Piper, Berlin.
Additionally, Sussman is an Interactive Producer managing projects ranging for NBC.com's Homicide and Saturday Night Live sites to educational software employing speech recognition technologies. She also performed trapeze as part of the duo The Amazing Siblings in venues throughout New York, though her acrobatic career was cut short when she was sidelined by a rotator cuff injury.
Rachel Sussman, photographer of the book The Oldest Living Things in the World, shows some organisms that have lived for thousands of years and explains the portraits she takes that force humans to think beyond the scale of the average life span.