ac59/1237831697-7068.jpegModern Art Notes here and here asks great, important questions about if and how the Abu Ghraib photographs will be collected, and by whom. Is MoMA the right place? Library of Congress? What about the fact that they basically exist only in digital format, or as printed in magazines?

Sponsored
Get Your Tickets for the Savage Love Livestream! Dan answers your burning relationship questions live and all the money goes to Northwest Harvest!

The best part of all this is that MAN doesn't keep it abstract. He calls the head of photography at MoMA, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives for answers.

What do I think? Not that anyone's asking, but I'm a little disappointed at MoMA photo head Peter Galassi's bristly response to the idea MAN proposes that the photographs becoming part of the important MoMA collection might be part of a national process of coming to terms with these photographs and what they mean.

"That's over-doing it," Galassi said. "It's putting too much weight on [the Museum of Modern Art]. How MoMA matters in that kind of way is about aesthetic judgments, such as when you're talking about which Weston or which Matisse is the best one. But when the Museum of Modern Art chooses Abu Ghraib, that's not that kind of big deal."

So MoMA acquired Eddie Adams's Vietnam execution photograph for its aesthetic value? The very idea is ridiculous, if not offensive. And anyway, it goes against what Galassi talks about just a few quotes earlier, when he explains that the Abu Ghraib photographs, in addition to being historically important, also represent "a new stage of vernacular photography" marked by "both the ease of making these digital pictures and then especially the ease of sending them around." The images have historical and aesthetic impact. It's hard not to see MoMA's lack of a position on this (Galassi: "I have to confess we haven't really thought about it") as an oversight.

Support The Stranger

That said, MoMA's not the only museum around with a good and important photography collection. Maybe another museum wants to attempt an institutional, art-world response to these difficult images.

Photo is artist Josh Azzarella's digitally manipulated Lynndied (2006), from here