To coincide with start of a new school year, Panopticon Gallery presents Bibliophile, a studious exhibition for lovers of photography and the printed page. This show features works by Thomas Allen, Carolyn Hampton, Sean Kernan, Aline Smithson, Mark Douglas, Fawn Potash, and Thomas Marr. These photographers turn their cameras toward their libraries, bringing unique perspectives and photographic processes to the book as subject.
Included among the contemporary images of books are Thomas Marr’s historic photographs of Boston’s buildings that house them. In his photographs of the Boston Athenæum at the turn of the last century, Marr shows us the stacks and reading rooms of one of the country’s oldest private libraries. These images are exhibited next to anonymous photographs of the Boston Public Library’s long-forgotten basement bindery in the 1920s and views of the library’s famous exterior from Copley Square.
Personal libraries are seen in Aline Smithson’s retro bookshelf arrangements and Fawn Potash’s carefully stacked piles of stolen library books. Thomas Allen uses mid-century books and pulp fiction paperbacks to transform still life into theatrical tableaus. The figures literally leap off of the pages to enact the dramatic scenes. In Carolyn Hampton’s photograph “The Lonely Bookkeeper,” a flurry of pages swirl magically around an archivist’s desk. Interested in the material qualities of paper and ink, Mark Douglas creates beautifully delicate abstract lith photographs of the rippled pages of water-damaged books. Whether you love books historic or contemporary, or admire them for their form or function, this exhibition contains something for every bibliophile’s library walls.