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Contemporary Art Gallery

555 Nelson Street
Vancouver, Canada
Open from Tuesday to
Sunday 12 pm → 6 pm

Admission always free
29 Apr 18·6:00 PM


Kaja Silverman: The Three-Personed Picture

Offsite at The Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver

A portrait photo of Kaja Silverman wearing a black shift and sitting on stone steps outside the building entrance.

The Contemporary Art Gallery and The Polygon Gallery are delighted to partner with Capture Photography Festival to present a lecture by the esteemed art historian and theorist Kaja Silverman, one of the most exciting critical thinkers in the field of photography today. Silverman’s talk will draw from research that shaped her forthcoming book, The Three-Personed Picture, or the History of Photography, Part 2 (Stanford University Press, 2018), the second installment in a three-volume reconceptualization of photography. Part 1, titled The Miracle of Analogy (2015), was primarily concerned with photography as the agency through which the world reveals itself to us, it focuses on images in whose formation the photographer played only a nominal role: on the pre-optical camera obscura’s image-stream, and photographs made during the first three decades of chemical photography. The Three-Personed Picture is about the gradual emergence of a very different kind of image: one that is pictorial in nature. This picture has two very unusual features. First, it is shaped both by the aesthetic intelligence of the photographer, and by the aesthetic intelligence of the world. Second, it depends for its existence as much upon the sitter and the beholder as it does upon the author, and it links them to each other through a three-person chiasmus. Through this picture, the saving power of photography finally becomes social, as well as ontological.


Kaja Silverman is the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, and the author of nine books: The Miracle of Analogy, or The History of Photography, Part 1 (2015); Flesh of My Flesh (2009); James Coleman (2002); World Spectators (2000); Speaking About Godard (with Harun Farocki, 1998); The Threshold of the Visible World (1996); Male Subjectivity at the Margins (1992); The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema (1988); and The Subject of Semiotics (1983). Before moving to the University of Pennsylvania, Silverman taught at the University of California for many years, as well as a number of other institutions, among them Simon Fraser University in Vancouver