Curated by
Charlotte Cotton

An exploration of
privacy in visual culture

ICP Museum

“The real beauty of the time we’re living through is that we can deploy our self-image in ways that can have radical social implications.”

Charlotte Cotton, Surveillance Revisited, Guernica

Public, Private, Secret: An Introduction from Charlotte Cotton

Cover image: Natalie Bookchin, Testament (video still), 2009–16. © Natalie Bookchin, courtesy of the artist

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin
The Revolutionary, from Spirit Is a Bone, 2013
Gelatin silver prints
Courtesy of the artists

Artists Broomberg and Chanarin coopted a sophisticated four-lens facial-recognition system developed by the Russian government for identification of individuals at public demonstrations, transit spaces, and state borders to create portraits of a wide spectrum of Moscow’s citizens, including Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevic. Spirit Is a Bone is rooted in the early twentieth-century tradition of creating taxonomies of people using photography, with the distinction that today the subject no longer needs to be present for the portrait. 

Clock (2016)
David Reinfurt, O-R-G


The Clock, commissioned for Public, Private, Secret, consists of two parts: a digital monitor at the front of the building, facing the street, and a pair of projections in the rear of the museum’s public space.

The wall-mounted projections stream live-video data drawn from six cameras in the front and in exhibition spaces, positioned by artist Sean Donovan. Custom software strips the position information from this image stream and reorganizes the remaining data into an abstracted grid of organized pixels. By altering the original pixel positions, any immediate reading of the space is frustrated. Instead, these new images register as dynamic data, more legible by a machine than a person. 

The projections are accompanied by a small digital monitor installed facing the street. Here, custom software creates a digital rendering of an analog clockface as a marker of the consistent back-and-forth play between the continuous and discrete—digital and analog—that describes the way we live with images today.

Public, Private, Secret features a dedicated issue of Printed Web—published in partnership with the International Center of Photography—that respond to the themes of the exhibition.

Printed Web #4

Each artist contributed work that engages with the concept of privacy today in relation to public visibility and self-identity. The fold is a leitmotif, and each of Printed Web #4’s interior sheets unfolds into a double-sided poster of a single artist’s work. The print-on-demand newsprint publication is produced by artist and designer Paul Soulellis, whose wider Printed Web project explores the intersection of printed matter and network culture through a physical archive, teaching, and research.

Printed Web #4 presents projects by Christopher Clary, Angela Genusa, Anouk Kruithof, Eva and Franco Mattes, Lorna Mills, Wolfgang Plöger, Travess Smalley, Molly Soda, and Elisabeth Tonnard and features a text—“Folding the Web”—by Michael Connor, Artistic Director of Rhizome.

Printed Web #4 is available for purchase from Spaces Corners at ICP Museum

Morality Tales

Curators: Mark Ghuneim with Cyndie Burkhardt and Alex Taylor
Graphic design: David Reinfurt
Technical design: Jon Bulava and Lily Healey

Morality Tales focuses on individuals whose recent actions have been recorded and circulated, both intentionally and unintentionally, and who have consequently been denounced or demonized through online/media scorn and shame. Over the course of the exhibition, this list of notorious individuals will change, reflecting the ever-present specter of public exposure of secrets and unfettered human fallibility. Also included are lists of exposed personal information and identification found publicly through online “dump monitor” accounts.

Public, Private, Secret features a dedicated issue of Mossless—published in partnership with the International Center of Photography—that respond to the themes of the exhibition.

Mossless 4: Public/Private/Portrait

The photographers in Mossless 4 explore the relationship between our private and public selves through portraiture. Public/Private/Portrait is published by Romke Hoogwaerts, with contributing editor Jonah Rosenberg, and is designed by Elana Schlenker. Mossless began in 2009 as a blog and since 2012 has published the work of over 100 photographers in three previous issues.

Mossless 4: Public/Private/Portrait features photographs by Khalik Allah, Gonzalo Bénard, Jen Davis, Leah Edelman-Brier, Amy Elkins, Kris Graves, Ditta Baron Hoeber, Fumiko Imano, Sabrina Jung, Tommy Kha, Stacy Kranitz, Zak Krevitt, Anouk Kruithof, Namsa Leuba, Molly Matalon, Daniel Mayrit, Ben McNutt, Shohei Miyachi, Ryan Pfluger, Signe Pierce, Farah Al Qasimi, Kalen Na’il Roach, Bobby Scheidemann, Rachel Stern, Caroline Tompkins, and more.

Mossless 4 is available for purchase from Spaces Corners at ICP Museum

“The show is witty, focused and sophisticated, while pushing back against assumptions about what a photography show ‘should’ look like in 2016.”

– American Photo

John Houck
Portrait Landscape, 2015
Video, 10 min
Courtesy of the artist and On Stellar Rays

For Portrait Landscape, John Houck created custom film-editing and facial-recognition software to modify scenes from Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic 1966 film Blow-Up. A series of squares flicker across the screen, pausing briefly on faces and on patterns the program misidentifies as faces, a recurring failure that mirrors the ambivalent and, at times, absurd relationship between seeing and knowing at play in the film.

Public, Private, Secret
On view through Jan. 8, 2017

ICP Museum
250 Bowery
New York, NY 10012

B, D, F, M, 6 to Broadway-Lafayette St.
F to 2nd Ave.


10 am–6 pm

Extended hours on Thursdays until 9 pm

Adults $14
Seniors $12
Students $10

Children 14 and under are free.

Pay what you wish on Thursdays 6–9 PM (suggested minimum donation: $5).