Urban photography, museum space, and the tensions of public life Reading "Zoe Strauss: Ten Years" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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Description: Drawing on James Clifford's discussion of museums as "contact zones," this thesis explores the 2012 photography exhibition, Zoe Strauss: Ten Years , as a significant site of rhetorical struggle. Utilizing a visual rhetorical framework guided by Kenneth Burke's work on identity and substance, I argue that the exhibition--which documents the American urban working-class experience during the economic hardships of the 2000s--causes aesthetic dissonance by making visible social distances between viewers and the exhibited material. These distances function rhetorically by unsettling viewers' stable senses of self, and confronting them with the paradox of substance. This identity destabilization, however, offers the possibility for a significant shift in viewers' contextual substance and their perceptions of the places they inhabit. This shift may create opportunities for re-relationships, and a sense of consubstantiality based on the acknowledgment of difference. Keywords: Visual rhetoric; museums; photography; contact zone; identity; difference
Language: English
Format: Degree Work