The North Carolina Museum of Art

Presence/Absence

Todd Hido, Untitled #2423A, 1999, chromogenic print, 24 x 20 inches, North Carolina Museum of Art, Gift of Allen G. Thomas Jr., © 1999 Todd Hido

November 27, 2011–May 27, 2012

The photographs in this exhibition, all from the North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection, reveal the constant mutual exchange between an environment and its inhabitants. Each image in Presence/Absence strongly implies human presence, even though we do not see any figures. The absence of people leaves an empty loneliness in some of the works; abandoned buildings, forgotten landscapes, and discarded possessions hint at the histories of former residents. In other works absence is just the moment before presence, a hopeful promise of a human connection soon to come. A cold glass of milk temptingly awaits its consumer, or a welcoming light beckons in the distance, allowing us to imagine the next piece of the story.

The desire to claim a space, to establish ownership and make a mark, is universal. As we enter and exit various settings, our identities become so intertwined with our possessions and surroundings that our presence lingers after we are gone. What happens to that space, our space, when we are absent from it? These photographs suggest the mysteries of where we have been, the remnants of what we leave behind, and the promise of what is soon to come.

Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions.