This text is based on notes I took at ACA Gallery’s Fall 2021 exhibition on the photographer Hugh Magnum. Not much is known about this image other than that it has suffered emulsion from decades of improper storage in a barn.
Hugh Magnum (1897-1922). Untitled 27, date unknown Archival pigment print 17 x 12.5 inches
Image courtesy of ACA Galleries and MB Abram Galleries
Two pairs of inquisitive eyes pierce through a dappled layer of blue and grey film, seemingly demanding answers from me. I’m not sure what they’re asking or what kind of answers they are expecting, but there is an urgent curiosity to their gaze that immediately arrests me, and also haunts me. I can’t shake a strange feeling of disorientation: the image feels old, spectral, but at the same time, the two sitters and their insistent eyes seem intractably present and contemporary.