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The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art, Acquired with the Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund

The Memory of Time presents work by contemporary artists who investigate the richness and complexity of photography’s relationship to time, memory, and history. In the last two decades, as the world has undergone an unprecedented technological revolution, photography itself has changed profoundly. With the advent of the digital age, people around the world are recording every aspect of their lives through photography, sharing their pictures with friends and strangers online and through the burgeoning social media. Yet digital photography has not only changed the way people make and circulate photographs, it has also shattered enduring notions of the medium as a faithful witness and recorder of unbiased truths, for now everything in a photograph can be fabricated; nothing need be real. Photography — once understood as verifying specific facts, capturing singular moments of time, and preserving explicit memories — is now recognized to have a multifaceted and slippery relationship to the truth and to the past. By embracing this complexity, contemporary artists have placed photography at the center of a renewed discussion around the construction of history and memory and the perception of time.

The exhibition is divided into five sections: “Traces of History,” “Time Exposed,” “Memory and the Archive,” “Framing Time and Place,” and “Contemporary Ruins.” It features recently acquired works made from the early 1990s to the present by artists who explore these concepts.