California Museum of Photography

May 11 - September 8, 2019

The photographs in Stratum range from around 1920 through 1950 and were all taken in the USA, after the First World War to just after the Second World War. This timespan was a period of exceptional social change and technological development.

These are primarily "banquet" photographs that were made at gatherings of employees, tradespeople, or professional organizations as souvenirs for the participants. Often, they arrived in a cardboard tube and put in a drawer never to be looked at again. sometimes they were valued as signifiers of identity, framed and hung on a wall for many years. Banquet photographs often show their age with some degree of staining, fading, or distress, an attribute that differentiates conventional photographs from the digital. They are literal physical imprints of a time, place, and circumstance, the physical evidence of their histories as material objects. 

Image: Arkansas Maytagers, Maytag Spring Party in Newton, Iowa, March 28-29, 1955, courtesy of John Divola

Project: John Divola, Artist, Professor, UCR Dept. of Art