For the First Show in its New Home, the International Center of Photography Ponders Privacy in the Surveillance State

This post was selected for inclusion in our Future of Art and Work series in December 2016. The series, sponsored by Microsoft Surface, selects some of our best posts exploring the topics of how art and work will look in the 21st century. This post was originally published in June, 2016. 


The International Center of Photography closed its Midtown Manhattan exhibition space in 2015 with a massive Sebastião Salgado exhibition, a fitting celebration of two long and storied careers in fine art photography. The school remains in its glass-portal basement HQ across Sixth Avenue, but for the past year or so, ICP has been prepping its new downtown exhibition space at 250 Bowery for its grand opening. That moment has finally arrived.

The new space, designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, is nestled between SoHo and the Lower East Side, and sits across the Bowery from the similarly shiny New Museum. The lobby is incased by floor-to-ceiling glass panels, in full view of the street, and open to the public; the ticketed exhibition spaces lie further inside, free from sunlight.

The International Center of Photography entrance. © Saul Metnick
The International Center of Photography entrance and lobby. © Saul Metnick

With its first exhibition, “Public, Private, Secret,” the museum seeks to “explore the concept of privacy in today’s society and studies how contemporary self-identity is tied to public visibility.” Organized by Charlotte Cotton, ICP’s first-ever curator-in-residence, it features 150 works from 50 artists, including Zach Blas, Martine Syms, Natalie Bookchin, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, and Andy Warhol—as well as real-time streams of images and videos from social media sources, curated with Mark Ghuneim and ICP’s New Media Narratives students. There are also three anonymous portraits of civil rights icon Sojourner Truth.

“Public, Private, Secret” opens today, June 23, 2016, through January 8, 2017. Click through for a gallery of select works from the exhibit:

The International Center of Photography © Saul Metnick
The International Center of Photography © Saul Metnick