Re-Classifying History: Catherine Wagner

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The work of Bay Area photographer Catherine Wagner will be the inaugural installation in the Connections Gallery of the new de Young. Situated at the intersection of galleries for the three primary departments of the museum, Textiles, the art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, and American art, the Connections Gallery offers an ideal site to initiate exhibitions of work that reflect the dynamic and integrated nature of the new permanent installations. The Connections Gallery program is newly conceived to enable visitors to make connections through strong, visual experiences, and the exhibitions will have the advantage of empowering public visitors, educating them through a non-traditional forum that minimizes overt instruction. By emphasizing the more intuitive connections on which artists typically rely, the exhibitions in this gallery will provide a model for visitors of the kinds of relationships that emerge when the collections are viewed with an eye toward common elements. At the same time, artists often use difference in highly productive ways that will point visitors to the role of diversity in shaping human experiences across cultures.

In the first installation by Catherine Wagner, the artist, working conceptually in photography, intervenes in the museum’s departmental descriptive systems to reveal the institution’s organizational and cultural assumptions. By making these assumptions visible, the installation will allow visitors to consider other possible viewpoints and to construct their own alternative narrative histories, which can be compared to those on display in the permanent galleries. The work will focus both on what is, and is not, usually stated.


This exhibition has been made possible in part by the generous support of Digital Pond and the LEF Foundation.

Currently on view