Red Spotted Purple: Roman Vishniac’s Science Work in ICP Gallery at Mana Contemporary, August 2-October 27, 2017

“Red Spotted Purple”: Roman Vishniac’s Science Work is a special exhibition organized by ICP at Mana’s first-ever Artist-in-Residence, Claudia Sohrens. As part of her Artist-in-Residence position, Sohrens was given unfettered access to the ICP Collections and invited to mine its archives. The result: Sohrens’ discovery of the images in “Red Spotted Purple”—a little-known body of work by photographer Roman Vishniac (1897–1990).

Sohrens became enchanted by Vishniac’s mounted scientific prints, which had been used as display boards by scientific societies and research institutes, and she was drawn to the wordplay and poetry of his captions. Featuring 14 rarely seen Vishniac works, this exhibition explores the physical traces of the archive as well as broader questions about originality and authorship.”—ICP

“Vishniac’s use of language and choice of words for labels and captions for some of his black-and-white images transformed a sense of aspiration toward solid or clear comprehension into poetry,” says Sohrens. “It encouraged me to look at his work and the relation between word and image in a new and different way, in which neither terms like ‘label and caption’ nor ‘collage and photomontage’ adequately describe his formal and iconographic boards. The poetic relationship between photography and language, and the binary of art and science are part of the discovery I would like to share in the exhibition to generate renewed interest in this part of his work.”

Roman Vishniac. Chaos chaos amoeba, ca. 1951. Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. (Two) Nais communis aquatic earthworms, ca. 1951. Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. Daphnia pulex, ca. 1951. Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. Diatoma, treasure at the bottom of the pond, ca. 1950s. Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. Dileptus anser and colpoda cucullus, ca. 1951. Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. Hydra catching a daphnia, ca. 1950s. Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. …Man’s leg (author’s hairy skin), ca. 1950s. Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. Mold, ca. 1950s. Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. Mosquito transmitting disease from rat’s tail to…, ca. 1950s. Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. Squid catching a herring, ca. 1950s. Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. Turbellaria, ca. 1950s Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. Water tiger attacking adult beetle, ca. 1950s Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Roman Vishniac. Red spotted purple, early 1950s-late 1960s. Digital ink jet print © Mara Vishniac Kohn

Images courtesy The International Center of Photography (ICP).