Through archival research Carla Herrera-Prats’ work comments on the cultural and economic transactions that flow, often invisibly, in the context of a transnational world. For Art+History Carla uses archival photos from the Nightingale-Brown House to understand how the Brown family has been “historicized” through photography. Based on a list of traditional photo studios that she recuperated from the NBH collection, Keep the word vanishing until the end consists on a series of photographs of the current businesses/households located at the sites where the original photo studios once stood, only two of which continue today as such studios. These images are paired with photographs from the collection in an installation that markedly transforms the parlor of the NBH.
Carla’s Artist Statement:
Keep the word vanishing until the end
The John Nicholas Brown Center photo collection contains images that date from the late 19th century to the present. There are many candid photographs, but the majority of the archive consists of formal portraits.
Since the invention of photography in the 1830s, the increasing convenience of producing and displaying images has dramatically transformed photo portraiture. The once elite ritual of sitting for a portrait is now a common activity. The democratization of portraiture closed the doors of many traditional studios and forced others to diversify their business.
My project began with a list of the studios that took portraits in the collection. I photographed the current businesses/households located at the sites where the original photo studios once stood, or, still stand, to form an installation in the parlor. With the addition of slide projections of the original photographs and a letter, this installation provides a narrative that reflects on the ways photography, beyond its surface, can depict economic and social conditions, as well as change.
Carla would like to thank Michelle Brodie, Marina Pinksy, and Trevor Powers for their help on this project.
Listen to the audio component of Keep the word vanishing until the end.
Learn more about Carla’s work here: