Panel: Photographs – In and Of the Street (Harry Callahan: The Street)

The Vancouver Art Gallery has published its recent presentation and panel discussion In and Of the Street relating to the Harry Callahan exhibition. The speakers were: Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art, Vancouver Art Gallery; Helga Pakasaar, Curator, Presentation House Gallery and Stephen Waddell, Artist and Guest Curator of An Agreeable State of Uncertainty.

Grant Arnold who was the curator of this exhibition went into various details of Callahan’s method of photographing, using the street as a stage and his interest in photographing women on the street lost in thought, how female identity is constructed and the sense of time passing that one perceives in his photographs.

Helga Pakasaar focused more on the intersession between private and public identities and drew inspiration from other photographers such as Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Dora Maar who were surrealist photographers. She also referenced the typology in Walker Evans’ work Labor Anonymous. Other photographers referenced were Vivian Maier, William Klein, Helen Levitt, Anthony Hernandez, Katie Grannan and Paul Graham. Pakasaar was of the opinion that Callahan’s street photography involved an obscuring of the social identity.

Stephen Waddell’s presentation focused on “campaigners and drifters”.  He considered various photographers who were working in the same time period as Harry Callahan. According to Waddell a campaigner is someone like Walker Evans who has a game plan for his projects. A drifter on the other hand is someone who is not concerned about identities or moralities and allows the moments to lead him on a path of discovery. Interestingly he made the statement that street photography as a genre is dead and ended around 1958. He later amended his statement to say that street photography was on “pause” and that photographers now needed to do something else. I don’t think I agree with his statements as I think street photography today has evolved in line with current social concerns. The social issues today are very different than what they were in the 1930’s. Back then the world was affected by the Great Depression, now we are concerned with global warming and sustainability. Some of the photographers featured in his presentation were Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Eva Besnyo, Vivian Maier, Saul Leiter, William Eggleston, Garry Winogrand (who he described as the ultimate drifter) and Craigie Horsfield.

The video concluded with a question and answer session.

Reference List

Vancouver Art Gallery (2016).  Panel: Photographs – In and Of the Street [user-generated content online] Creat. Vancouver Art Gallery. 22 August, 2016. 1 hr 54min 59 sec Available at: (Accessed 23 September, 2016)


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