Public, Private, Secret explores the roles that photography and video play in the crafting of identity, and the reconfiguration of social conventions that define our public and private selves. This collection of essays, interviews, and reflections assesses how our image-making and consumption patterns are embedded and implicated in a wider matrix of online behavior and social codes, which in turn give images a life of their own. Within this context, our visual creations and online activities blur and remove conventional separations between public and private (and sometimes secret) expression. The writings address the various disruptions, resistances, and subversions that artists propose to the limited versions of race, gender, sexuality, and autonomy that populate mainstream popular culture. They anticipate a future for our image-world rich with diversity and alterity, one that can be shaped and influenced by the agency of self-representation.
Charlotte Cotton has been at the forefront of the appraisal of contemporary art photography for over twenty years. As the first curator in residence at the International Center of Photography in 2015–16, she opened the museum’s new home on the Bowery in New York with her exhibition and program Public, Private, Secret. Cotton has also held curatorial positions at institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum and The Photographers’ Gallery in London; the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Katonah Museum of Art, New York; and Metabolic Studio in Los Angeles. She is the author of Photography Is Magic (Aperture, 2015) and The Photograph as Contemporary Art (2004), and cofounder of Words Without Pictures and Eitherand.org.