Not an Ostrich: And Other Images from America’s Library is the result of celebrated American photography curator Anne Wilkes Tucker’s excavation of nearly 500 images—out of a collection of over 14 million—permanently housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. While visitors to the exhibition might never see an ostrich, they will see the image entitled “Not an Ostrich” and a large selection of rare and handpicked works from the vaults of the world’s largest library, many never widely available to the public.
This exhibition spans across the history of photography—from daguerreotypes, the first photographic process, to contemporary digital prints. Iconic portraits of Abraham Lincoln, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Cesar Chavez and Elizabeth Taylor appear alongside unusual images, such as, Stanley Kubrick’s “Strong Man’s Family” (1947), John Vachon’s “Ice Fishing, Minnesota” (1956), Susana Raab’s “Chicken in Love, Athens, OH” (2006) and Nina Berman’s “Flammable Faucet #4, Monroeton, PA” (2011). Vivid color portrayals of America, across time, are highlighted in juxtapositions of popular travel views from the late 19th century, created by the Detroit Publishing Company using the then-latest “photochrom” technology, on a screen next to striking contemporary scenes captured by Carol M. Highsmith.
A nation’s story is a reflection of its collective—and selective—memory. Not an Ostrich: And Other Images from America’s Library invites visitors to experience our shared heritage.
A documentary film—produced by the Annenberg Foundation—featuring interviews with seven featured photographers, along with inside access to the Library of Congress, will be shown at the Space.