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Photographic Resource Center turns 30 and looks ahead in new exhibition

Photographers 30 years ago could hardly have imagined that one day they would be able to edit and manipulate images with ease and share their work around the world in an instant. The Photographic Resource Center’s 30th anniversary exhibition, titled PRC/POV: Photography Now and the Next 30 Years, serves as a snapshot of photography today and of the seemingly limitless possibilities the next 30 years may bring.  

“On this anniversary of the Photographic Resource Center’s founding, we felt strongly that we needed to look forward to the future and not just to the past,” says Leslie Brown, PRC curator. “Our current mission is devoted to emerging ideas and trends, and by asking people from our present and our past to look to the future, we felt that it hit all the right notes.”

For the exhibition, conceived as one generation of photographers shaking the hand of another, the PRC asked current and former staff, board members, and photographers to nominate emerging artists, scholars, organizations, and publications that are garnering attention in the world of photography.

Several trends surfaced among the up-and-coming photographers, says Brown, one of the most prominent being that photography itself has gone back to the basics.

“A lot of work addresses or uses chemical photography’s basic characteristics. There are several pieces in the show that use paper negatives, an older process, yet put a modern spin on it,” Brown says. “Also, artists have begun to rediscover historical processes as well as make work that addresses the idea of the photographic process, which includes focus, depth of field, optics, the chemical darkroom, and film itself.”

Also emerging were new twists on documentary work, an increased focus on portraiture and a new consideration for what defines a portrait, more installation and sculptural work, an influx of video and new media using photography, a renewed commitment to conceptually-based work, and artists banding together and forming working collectives.

The Internet has transformed the way photographers publicize their work, giving them an alternative to the gallery. “I would say that the Internet does not necessarily affect the kind of work photographers do,” says Brown, “it just allows them to share it very quickly and allows them to see work by other people from anywhere.”

The PRC/POV: Photography Now and the Next 30 Years opened on Friday, November 3, and will run through Sunday, January 28. The PRC is located at 832 Commonwealth Ave. For information on hours or directions, call 617-975-0600 or visit www.prcboston.org.

Meghan Noe can be reached at mdorney@bu.edu