Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography


An original exhibition from the world’s largest collection of these beautiful, challenging and mysterious images

New Mexico History Museum 

Opening events for Poetics of Light: Pinhole PhotographySunday, April 27, 1–4 pm. Guest curators Eric Renner and Nancy Spencer speak in the museum auditorium at 1 pm on “Passion, Light and Pinhole Photography.” A book signing follows in the lobby, along with refreshments, 2–4 pm, courtesy of the Women’s Board of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation. Free with admission; Sundays free to NM residents.

Santa Fe—In an age when every cell phone can take a respectable picture, cameras as low-tech as an oatmeal box still beguile a legion of practitioners, both artistic and documentarian. With roots in the ancient discovery of the camera obscura, pinhole photography has enchanted artists from the 1880s through today. Opening April 27 (through March 29, 2015), Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography, in the Herzstein Gallery of the New Mexico History Museum, explores a historical art form that exemplifies thoroughly contemporary ideals: Do-it-yourself handmade technology with a dash of steampunk style.

Nearly 225 photographs and 40 cameras show how a light-tight box pierced by a hole and holding a piece of old-school film can reveal alternate versions of reality. At heart, photography is a method of capturing the way that light plays upon objects, the seen and the unseen—a visual form of poetry that extends beyond a literal representation whenever pinhole cameras are involved.

Poetics of Light offers a premiere of original prints by photographers from around the world. Drawn from the holdings of the Pinhole Resource Collection, the body of work was amassed by co-curators Eric Renner and Nancy Spencer in San Lorenzo, in New Mexico’s Mimbres Valley. In 2012, seeking a permanent repository and impressed by the capabilities of the Photo Archives at the Palace of the Governors, the couple donated the collection—more than 6,000 photographs, 60 cameras and hundreds of books—to the New Mexico History Museum.

The exhibit’s opening coincides with Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, a global event in which pinhole aficionados post their of-the-moment images to a website, thus celebrating in a high-tech way their mastery of low-tech photography. (For more info on the event, log onto www.pinholeday.org.)




New 55 by Polly Chandler