without a word presents a selection of portrait photographs from the private collection of Bill Wu, the first display of this remarkable, yet unknown, Vancouver collection of photography. Representing an international cross-section of acclaimed twentieth-century artists including Berenice Abbott, Robert Doisneau, Walker Evans, Graciela Iturbide, and Mary Ellen Mark, the exhibition includes some of modern photography’s most iconic and memorable portraits, with a specific focus on people caught in unguarded moments of contemplation and preoccupation. In many images, the camera seems to be unnoticed altogether, their subjects unstaged or taken in passing, highlighted by an ambiguous, perhaps unfamiliar relationship between figure and photographer. without a word speaks to a widely shared experience of having one’s picture taken without formal permission, and to the evocative power of stolen encounters that might reveal more about identity than might ever be found in a formally posed portrait.
Photo: Robert Doisneau, Le Petit Balcon, 1953. © Robert Doisneau.