Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Through August 19
“Photographs can and in many ways should exist to contradict one another and to build out a narrative that is confusing and in some ways sort of compulsive,” explains Carmen Winant, one of seventeen photographers included in MoMA’s biannual look at new photography, this year called “Being,” which asks the question “How can photography capture what it means to be human?” Winant’s large-scale “My Birth,” consisting of more than two thousand found images of women giving birth, lines a narrow passageway in the exhibit, which continues through August 19. “This could be a shared narrative that both collapses time, and also sort of points to the difference between kinds of experience,” she adds in her online statement. That could be said for many of the works in the show, which features photographers from Brazil, America, Ethiopia, Poland, India, Italy, Germany, and Palestine, all between the ages of thirty-one and forty-four. Harold Mendez’s “At the edge of the Necró polis” explores ritual and remembrance. Images of water are central to Matthew Connors’s series “Unanimous Desire,” taken in North Korea. Stephanie Syjuco’s “Cargo Cults: Head Bundle” is a self-portrait of the Philippine immigrant in traditional dress but with an Urban Outfitters shopping bag on her head. In “Gesellschaft beginnt mit drei” (“Society Begins with Three”), Andrzej Steinbach delves into personal identity by having a trio of models change position and clothing. The exhibit, organized by assistant curator Lucy Gallun, also includes work by Sofia Borges, Sam Contis, Shilpa Gupta, Adelita Husni-Bey, Yazan Khalili, Aïda Muluneh, Hương Ngô and Hồng-Ân Trương, B. Ingrid Olson, Joanna Piotrowska, Em Rooney, and Paul Mpagi Sepuya. “I just want you to really question,” Husni-Bey says about “The Council,” but that relates to all of the photographs in this compelling presentation.