The International Photography Center will reopen in a four-story, 40,000-square-foot space in the new mass development of Essex Crossing on the Lower East Side on January 25. It is the fourth location of the museum since its opening in 1974 and brings the exhibition and education spaces under the same roof for the first time this century.
“The impulse behind the new building is to put the exhibits, the collection and our students back in dialogue with each other” Mark Lubell, executive director of I.C.P., said in an interview on Monday. “The exhibits will be incorporated into our curriculum for our more than 3,500 students worldwide in programs ranging from an M.F.A. of two years. program for classes for teenagers and everything else. “
The new space will provide significantly more exhibition space than any of the previous sites on East 94th Street and Fifth Avenue, West 43rd Street and Avenue of the Americas, and Bowery, near Houston Street.
It will include media labs, classrooms, dark rooms, spaces for public events, a research library, a shop and a cafeteria. The museum’s galleries will be visible through a glass facade on Essex Street.
The Lower East Side is a sacred ground for photography. On Essex Street and its surroundings, Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine documented the deplorable living and working conditions there following the great immigration of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A set of images of the neighborhood, selected from the permanent collection of I.C.P., is one of the four exhibitions that will be inaugurated this month, entitled “The Lower East Side: Selections of I.C.P. Collection.”
Another of the exhibitions, Tyler Mitchell’s solo exhibition “I Can Make You Feel Good” includes photographs, videos and installations that explore black identity. (In 2018, Mr. Mitchell became the first black photographer to shoot the cover of Vogue magazine with Beyoncé).
The museum will also show “CONTACT HIGH: A Visual History of Hip-Hop,” which examines four decades of contact sheets for photographers documenting the hip-hop movement.
“Warriors”, a live digital work by James Coupe, inserts images of museum visitors into scenes from the 1979 cult film “The Warriors” using a deepfake algorithm and technology.
Visual culture has changed radically since the foundation of I.C.P. by Cornell Capa in 1974 as a home for “worried photography.” Mr. Capa’s intention as a photographer was to make images that would become part of the historical record of his time. This visual authorship is still very important for I.C.P., Lubell said.
“In this new space we want to foster a dialogue about today’s great image makers and this collective democratization of photography and self-representation in the digital age and what that means to society,” he said.