Keeper of the Hearth: Picturing Roland Barthes’ Unseen Photograph

Houston Center of Photography, opening September 10, 2020

Exhibition: Houston Center of Photography, opening September 10, 2020. Book published by Schilt.

Keeper of the Hearth: Picturing Roland Barthes’ Unseen Photograph, is the first exhibition of Odette England’s book of the same name, which was published in the US in March 2020, marking the 40th year of Roland Barthes’ renowned work, Camera Lucida (La chambre claire). As part of this project, England invited more than 200 photography-based artists, writers, critics, curators, and historians from around the world to contribute an image or text that reflects on the instigator of Barthes’ semiotic musings—a photograph of his mother, Henriette, aged 5, that is never seen in the book, and is perhaps one of the most famous unseen photographs in the world.

Contributors include David Campany, David Levi-Strauss, Alec Soth, Rosalind Fox Solomon, Stanley Wolukau Wanambwa, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Jess T. Dugan. From a diverse array of found photographs to intimate portraits of artists’ lives, this exhibition creates a multitude of platforms from which to consider the theoretical conversations about photography—not only what we see but how we see—that continue to shape our understanding of the medium today. In addition to coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Camera Lucida, this exhibition opens two seasons of programs celebrating the 40th anniversary of Houston Center for Photography.

Book published by Schilt Publishing.