“It’s not a museum show where you look at the work, read the text, and move to the next picture. It’s a constellation of material, and the show is not scared of being quite dramatic. Increasingly, we talk about the exhibition as a physical experience. In an era where digital or virtual is the default, the actual coming together into a physical space has to be an experience that you don’t want to miss.”

– Charlotte Cotton, Surveillance Revisited, Guernica


Amalia Ulman
Andrew Hammerand
Andy Warhol
Ann Hirsch
Barbara DeGenevieve
Cindy Sherman
Count Camille D'Olivier
Don McCullin
Doug Rickard
Garry Winogrand
Gillian Wearing
Henri Cartier-Bresson
Jack Webb
Jill Magid
John Houck
Jon Rafman
Kate Cooper
Kim Kardashian
Kohei Yoshiyuki
Kurt Caviezel
Larry Clark
Larry Sultan
Laurel Nakadate
Lyle Ashton Harris
Marc Garanger
Marisa Olson

Martha Rosler
Martine Syms
Merry Alpern
Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari
Nan Goldin
Nancy Burson
Natalie Bookchin
Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg
Patrick McMullan
Phil Collins
Rashid Johnson
Ron Galella
Shelly Silver
Sophie Calle
Stefan Ruiz
Tiane Doan na Champassak
Trevor Paglen
Vik Muniz
William J.Hennessy
Wu Tsang
Yale Joel
Yuri Pattison
Zach Blas
 + Unidentified photographer (auditions polaroids)

Public, Private, Secret

Curators: Charlotte Cotton, Marina Chao, and Pauline Vermare
Spatial design: common room
Graphic design: Geoff Han
Audiovisual design: George Johnson
Lighting design: Jim Conti
Spatial installation: Art Domantay
Production: Todd McDaniel
Editor: Paula Kupfer
Events curator: Lucas Wrench

Public, Private, Secret Real-Time Curation

Concept: Charlotte Cotton and Mark Ghuneim
Curators: Charlotte Cotton, David Reinfurt, Elizabeth Kilroy, John Bulava, and Mark Ghuneim, with Soumita Bhattacharya, Cyndie Burkhardt, Mengwen Cao, Daphne Chan, Evan Cisneros, Miles Goscha, Caitlin Healy, Susan Sawyers, Alex Taylor, and Muyi Xiao
Graphic design: David Reinfurt
Technical design: Jon Bulava and Lily Healey


We would like to thank everyone who took the time to help us refine the vision for this exhibition, especially Marisa Olson and Sean Donovan, David Evans Frantz, Lucy Gallun, Alex Klein, Tina Kukielski, Miranda Lichtenstein, Margot Norton, Trevor Paglen, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Eva Respini, Mariah Robertson, Elisabeth Sherman, Sara VanDerBeek, and all our colleagues at ICP.

This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of the ICP Exhibitions Committee, the John and Annamaria Phillips Foundation, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, and, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. The forthcoming Public, Private, Secret publication is made possible through the generous support of the Metabolic Studio.

Vik Muniz
Frederick Douglass, from Pictures of Ink, 2000
Silver dye bleach (Cibachrome) print
International Center of Photography
Purchase, with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2003

The social reformer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass was the most photographed American man of the nineteenth century. Embracing the newly established medium of photography, Douglass forcefully counteracted racist stereotypes and embodied the commonality of humanity. His disseminated image became, and remains, iconic. 

Brazilian artist Vik Muniz is widely known for his recreations of historic images with the most unconventional materials—ketchup, dust, sugar, chocolate, etc.—which he then photographs. The resulting images force the viewer to interrogate their meaning and impact; in this case Muniz reinforces the power of Douglass’s achievement.

The “Other”

Curators: Mark Ghuneim with Elizabeth Kilroy
Graphic design: David Reinfurt
Technical design: Jon Bulava and Lily Healey

The “Other” consists of filtered posts from publicly available tweets, photographs, and videos, all culled from Twitter. Search terms reveal a real-time stream of media focused on the identifying and surveilling of human beings by private individuals, commercial businesses, and police and state organizations. Tweet texts and images fade in and out, creating a visualization of the ways in which surveillance has become embedded in our day-to-day media encounters. Their accumulation conveys the overwhelming extent to which this sort of close observation makes its subjects appear as “the other”—intrinsically different and alienated from us—as a result of being singled out. The search queries provide the baseline for the curated stream as it evolves in real time over the course of the exhibition. 

“Our starting point was to think about the timeless psychic tendencies that pervade the story of photography—voyeurism and exhibitionism—and we made that our jumping off point. It was difficult at first to get into this deeply human understanding of where image-making figures but it led us to making the stakes incredibly personal and focused on the emotional power of photography and its contemporary urgency.”

– Marina Chao, Assistant Curator

Cindy Sherman
Untitled, 1979
Chromogenic print (printed 1989)
International Center of Photography
Gift of Photographers + Friends United Against AIDS

“The biggest revelation that I will take from the experience of co-curating this exhibition is how the historical photographs from ICP’s collections are brought into the present day. They read in a completely new way in ‘Public, Private, Secret.’ This exhibition is, for me, about learning how to read a photograph again. It’s all about the context and the correspondences that we establish between historical and contemporary photography. There are many layers to the exhibition and I think what people will remember is photography and image-making all working together to create meaning.”

– Pauline Vermare, Associate Curator