Shannon Egan, PhD, director, Schmucker Art Gallery, Gettysburg College
This presentation offers a comparative analysis of Norwegian and American landscape photography in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At the present time of devastating climate change and political conflicts about the environment and energy consumption, this lecture considers a historical moment when once remote wildernesses were first surveyed, developed, and photographed on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Although photographers such as Carleton Watkins, Timothy O’Sullivan and William Henry Jackson are best known for their sublime views of the American West, the subject, style, and presentation of their works can be seen in dialogue with Scandinavian photographers of the same period. As a result of increased travel, international exhibitions, and technological developments in the nineteenth century, the photographs made in both countries engage with comparable issues of land occupation, immigration, nation-building, and the representation of Indigenous cultures. Not only did these Norwegian and American photographs respond to art of their time, they have had a lingering impact on more contemporary art projects, including re-photography surveys in both countries, and the relatively new field of visual ecocriticism.
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