February 15–March 25, 2001
Arcadia University Art Gallery


"Imagine an immensely vast library that contains great works of literature, prose and poetry, as well as countless dime-store novels, academic treatises, instructional manuals, zines, comics, and every other type of book that could be written, including nonsense books. Such an image, which approximates the vast “library of Babel” envisaged by author Jorge Luis Borges, offers an appropriate metaphor for the "Snapshot" exhibition.

Artists and arts professionals were invited to submit snapshots and to invite their colleagues to do the same, an invitation that expanded across the world with its own momentum. The individual participants were given permission to decide what was meant by the term “snapshot,” so that every photograph that conformed to the basic size requirement was accepted into the exhibition. Like a sprawling transformation of a family photo album, the exhibition contains 1,000 photographs, from twenty-four countries, including works by leading contemporary artists, commercial photographers, amateurs, art students, craft artists, critics, and artists working in all media with widely varied levels of experience and reputation."

Adam Lerner, Associate Curator, Contemporary Museum, Baltimore

Installation view, photo: Greenhouse Media

Originated by the Contemporary Museum Baltimore, "Snapshot" was an all-inclusive exhibition that invited artists and laypeople alike to submit photographs of their choosing for public display. This call for entries generated an astounding ripple effect, as photographs were sent in from twenty-four countries worldwide. The final compilation of images ranged from the to-be-expected repertoire of family, friends, and household pets to ghostly stage-like settings and abstract compositions; and in professionalism from the amateur’s unrehearsed record of an event to, in the words of exhibition curator Adam Lerner, “a number of artfully composed scenes…and technically perfect work.”

The photographs at Beaver College Art Gallery were arranged in a grid, floor to ceiling, and in alphabetical order to avoid conferring curatorial value to any one photograph due to either name recognition or the assumed merit of individual works. Because these snapshots were conceived as equals and arranged democratically as such, the photographs by leading contemporary artists could not lay claim to a more meaningful cultural significance or authenticity than any of the other images. The authority to make these value judgments no longer resided in either the curator or artist, but in the viewer’s final determination of worth.

Installation view, photo: Greenhouse Media

For the manifestation of "Snapshot" at Beaver College Art Gallery, an additional 335 local submissions supplemented the original 958 photographs borrowed from the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore.

The exhibition includes 1300 photographers from twenty-four countries including; Polly Apfelbaum, Ken Aptekark, John Baldessari, Petah Coyne, James Elaine Louice Fishman, Douglass Gordon, Holly Hughs, Connie Imboden, Isaac Julien, Jerry Kearns, Mary Kelly, William Kentridge, Justine Kurland, Pepon Osorio, Fabian Marcaccio, Andres Serrano, Kiki Smith, Buzz Spector, Jesica Stockholder, John Waters, Alan Wexler Curators: Gary Sangster, Adam Lerner, and Sarah Vezina.