Curators in Conversation: Privacy, Visibility, and Early Photography

Eastman Company, [Advertisement for the Kodak camera], ca. 1890, lithograph (facsimile). Courtesy of the George Eastman Museum, Gift of Eastman Kodak Company

Discover the Hidden Histories of Early Photography: Curators in Conversation: Privacy, Visibility, and Early Photography

Wednesday, June 5, 2024 | 6pm ET
The Image Centre, 33 Gould Street, Toronto

Join us for Curators in Conversation: Privacy, Visibility, and Early Photography, featuring guest curator Sarah Parsons from York University and Zeynep Gürsel, media anthropologist and Associate Professor at Rutgers University. This engaging discussion will explore themes from the exhibition Hypervisibility: Early Photography and Privacy in North America, 1839–1900.

The exhibition delves into the complex relationship between early photography and privacy concerns. At a time when the omnipresence of cameras heightens privacy risks, this exhibition provides a historical perspective on the issue. From daguerreotypes to stereographs, early photographic forms sparked both enthusiasm and apprehension, raising questions about visibility and privacy.

Hypervisibility examines how photography intersected with issues of gender, race, class, and disability in the nineteenth century. It highlights the nuanced and often overlooked histories of how early photographic practices influenced societal perceptions of privacy. Supported by research from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), this exhibition offers a critical look at the past to inform our understanding of the present.

Don’t miss this opportunity to deepen your understanding of the historical interplay between photography and privacy. The event promises a thought-provoking conversation that connects historical insights to contemporary debates.

Upcoming IMC Events

Special Exhibition Tour: Hypervisibility
Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | 6pm ET

Special Exhibition Tour: Scotiabank Photography Award: Ken Lum
Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | 6pm ET

Opening Reception and Artist Talk for A. Sheikh: The Test
Wednesday, June 26, 2024 | 6–8pm ET

Special Exhibition Tour: Streamlined: Belterra, Amazônia / Alberta, Michigan
Wednesday, July 10, 2024 | 6pm ET

Visit for a full schedule of this season’s events. All events take place in-person at The Image Centre, (33 Gould St., Toronto). Please advise of any accessibility needs by emailing

Hypervisibility: Early Photography and Privacy in North America, (installation view), 2024 © Larissa Issler

Don’t Miss Our Spring/Summer Season of Shows

Scotiabank Photography Award: Ken Lum
May 15 – August 3, 2024

This exhibition, comprising signature series along with new works, celebrates the career of Canadian artist Ken Lum, winner of the 2023 Scotiabank Photography Award. Lum is internationally known for his conceptualist and often humorous approach, which draws on methods from cultural and social studies, semiology, psychoanalysis, and political philosophy. The artist’s impactful practice utilizes photography to investigate the relationship between language and representation in the public space. By doing so, Lum critically challenges the social hierarchies and dominant narratives related to identity, class, and gender that are always at play in capitalist and postcolonial societies.

Hypervisibility: Early Photography and Privacy in North America, 1839–1900
May 15 – August 3, 2024

Given the current ubiquity of cameras and the broad circulation of photographs in this digital age, photography can be understood as a threat to privacy. But even in its earliest forms—from daguerreotypes, cartes de visite, and stereographs to commercial advertising—the medium triggered both excitement and concerns about heightened visibility. Photography carried various risks and rewards based on gender, race, class, and disability. This exhibition considers some of those aspects as it traces the fascinating interrelated and overlooked histories of photography and privacy in the nineteenth century.

This exhibition draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Clarissa Tossin: Streamlined: Belterra, Amazônia / Alberta, Michigan
May 15 – August 3, 2024

Streamlined: Belterra, Amazônia / Alberta, Michigan positions moving images of nearly identical Ford Motor Company towns in dialogue with one another. The left side of the video moves across Belterra, a rubber plantation village in the Amazon forest, while the right shows Alberta, a sawmill town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Both were built at the same time in 1935 for the purposes of producing rubber and wood for the manufacturing of the Model T in the United States. Depicting the two towns in parallel, the work focuses in and out of residential buildings, tree harvests, moments of daily life and natural landscapes. Articulating the tensions between simulacrum and authenticity that inform these pre-planned communities, Tossin’s use of mirroring across disparate but deeply linked geographies both establishes and unsettles a sense of space and place. Ultimately, Streamlined offers a subtle inquiry into the histories of globalized production and their material and social residues.

Working Machines: Postwar America Through Werner Wolff’s Commercial Photography
May 15 – June 15, 2024

Drawing from the Werner Wolff Archive held at The Image Centre, the exhibition and accompanying publication Working Machines explore the practice of a commercial photographer in postwar America. Wolff’s images of workers, commodities, and urban landscapes document the accelerated rise of capitalism through massive industrialization and consumerism in the 1950s and 1960s. The project illuminates the historical conditions and aesthetic of a practice rarely considered in the history of photography, one of a “generalist” photographer working for a variety of clients, including the illustrated press, the advertising industry, and the corporate sector.

In Dimension: Personal and Collective Narratives
May 15 – August 3, 2024

In Dimension: Personal and Collective Narratives is a group exhibition bringing together works by emerging artists who participated in The Image Centre’s Poy Family Youth in Focus Program. This program provides free, customized workshops for community organizations and youth in the Toronto area, offering hands-on photography-based activities that encourage critical thinking about the IMC’s exhibitions and promote explorations of image-making and storytelling processes.

This exhibition is supported through the generosity of The Poy Family.

A. Sheikh: The Test
June 26 – August 3, 2024

In the multimedia installation The Test, A. Sheikh explores the mental health experiences of eight Queer Muslim individuals through audio interviews set in a majlis. Alienated by Islamophobia and Queerphobia, LGBT2Q+ Muslims lack physical and emotional spaces to authentically be themselves. The Test queers the majlis by imagining a space in which discussions surrounding Queerness, Islam, and mental health can be had, directly challenging deeply rooted cultural and religious taboos. Rooted in the artist’s own experiences as a Queer Muslim who grew up in the Middle East, this participatory and autoethnographic project serves as an act of (re)connection, healing, and reclamation.

The Image Centre
33 Gould Street
Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W1
Follow us @imagecentreTO

Admission is free
Free exhibition tours Wednesday – Friday at 1:30 pm

Media Contact
Feven Tesfamariam, The Image Centre,

Toronto Metropolitan University & The Image Centre logos