I’m pleased to be able to share this guest review of the joint Roanoke Times/Taubman photography exhibition “In the Moment: Light, Vision and Memory” by Krista Barwick, a senior in art history at Hollins University. The exhibition will remain on display through March 4. — MikeA
By Krista Barwick
The line between photography as a fine art form and photography as journalism blurs in the Taubman’s exhibition In the Moment: Light, Vision and Memory; Celebrating Photography in the 125th Year of The Roanoke Times, running until Sunday, March 4th. These photos, split between two rooms and ranging from the late 1800s to 2011, were all originally meant to accompany text in The Roanoke Times newspaper, in other recent publications, and on the web. Here they are shown alone and unadorned, thick white mats and simple wooden frames concentrating the life and energy of the individual photographs.
The first room is square, white-washed, and well-lit. The eyes are immediately drawn to the colors of the photographs, vibrant in the stark room. Most of these are from the last decade or so. They show people: their joys and sorrows, their triumphs, their day-to-day lives. There are humorous moments, such as drag queens primping for a show; there are quiet moments, such as a girl sitting at her window in the Dominican Republic. Distracting from these emotion-charged images, however, is the television screen in the center of the room, which runs short films, sometimes relating to the displayed photographs, but all with music, dialogue, and irritating sound.
The true gems hang in the second room, crowded with much smaller photos. Here are the older images, intriguing black and white, documenting the lively history of the Roanoke Valley. Trains and the depot feature prominently, from the construction of a steam engine to the empty, moon-lit rails. There are such disasters as fire-a fireman giving a half-naked child mouth-to-mouth while smoke billows white around them-and flood-librarians from Hollins College laying out books to dry. There are celebrities—John F. Kennedy speaking to a crowd; Elvis Presley stopping at the train station on his journey home-and ordinary folk. Some photos are serious portraits, as of The Roanoke Times photographers from the early 1900s, but there are more whimsical images as well, such as a photograph of the Mayor of Roanoke perched on a small tricycle. Here the viewer can sit and contemplate the years that have gone.