Help Me

Found photos from the collection of Gillian McCain
Curated by Gillian McCain & Megan Cump

November 4 – December 18, 2010
Opening reception: Thursday, November 4, 6 – 8pm

Forgotten, discarded, orphaned, lost; stolen, bought, discovered or found; the vernacular images in HELP ME are culled from Gillian McCain’s extensive collection of photographs in formats including tin-types, cabinet cards, Polaroids, and snapshots.

With an eye for the peculiar, McCain and co-curator Megan Cump, present a selection of images that bring together criminals, patients, ghosts and other assorted misfits. In and out of touch with their surroundings, often performing human experiments, usually on the brink of disaster— these images frequently leave viewers scratching their heads and asking: exactly who is it that needs help? Is it the subject, the photographer, the viewer themselves, or some poor soul off-camera?

Shot in cheap hotel rooms, prisons, asylums, war-zones and ordinary homes, these images are often inexplicable and foreboding, but not without humor. Whether it’s a girl about to be swallowed by an amusement park whale, convicts posturing for a Polaroid to send to the folks back home, or an accident waiting to happen, these often private and always anonymous photographs haunt us with their alluring beauty and the strange poetry of the “found.”

HELP ME will be accompanied by a limited edition book available at CCNY.

HELP ME Panel Presentation
Tuesday, December 14, 7pm at the School of Visual Arts Amphitheatre

In conjunction with HELP ME, CCNY presents a lecture and panel discussion about found photography at School of Visual Arts. Panelists include Luc Sante, William Hunt, and Leslie Grant, and will be moderated by Megan Cump. Each will present excerpts from their collections of found photographs and related projects while addressing the resonance, subversive possibilities, and relevance of found and vernacular photography, including themes from the HELP ME exhibition. The panel will also discuss and explore the desire to uncover, comprehend, repurpose, and accumulate “orphan” images.

This panel discussion is free to CCNY members, SVA students, faculty and staff. General admission $5, $3 for other students with ID. The SVA Amphitheatre is located at 209 East 23rd Street, between Second and Third Avenues.