‘Mirrors and Windows’

Our Course notes feature an extract of the Museum of Modern arts press release prior to the opening of the Mirrors and Windows American photography since 1960 exhibition.  I found the entire press release here.  The two photography principles the photograph as a mirror and a window according to John Swarkowski a mirror is a romantic expression of the photographer’s sensibility as it projects itself on the things and sights of the world, therefore, the photograph is self-observing narrative whereas a window is a direct observation of the world.  I have decided to purchase the book Windows and Mirrors, America photography since 1960 by John Swarkowski to help my understanding of these two basic photographic tenets (here)

Tina Barney


I found the work of Tina Barney (here)

Tina Barney’s work shows us the culture of upper-class Manhattan these images have an interesting concept to them because she uses her family and friends photographing them in their domestic surroundings creating images that are intimate. ‘There is a compelling blend of a photographically distant perspective with a subject that is intimately known’ (Cotton, 2009)  Her work a mirror to her everyday life.  Barney describes her work as being akin to an anthropological survey (Cotton, 2009) I agree with this statement because of the way she approaches her work. Barney photographs family life and the tensions that occur through identity and place she shows people separate from one another, closeness as well as people immersed in daily activities her work a window to human society, culture and the lifestyle of upper-class Manhattan.

Reference list:

Press Realease (1978). Mirrors and Windows American Photography since 1960[online] Available at [Accessed 4 April 2018]

Cotton, C. (2009) The photograph as contemporary art, Thames & Hudson world of art

Tina Barney(online) 4 April 2018]




Exercise 3.1

The Brief –

Go through your photographic archive and select around ten pictures. Separate them into two piles one entitled ‘mirrors’ and the other entitled ‘windows’

  • What did you put in each pile and why?
  • Did you have any difficulties in Categorising them

You may want to repeat the exercise with some different images and record your responses it would be interesting to see you place the same images both camps and review your reasons for doing so.

For my first image I decided to use two images placed alongside one another.  The images are from my first context and narrative assignment two sides to a story.  The images for me work as a window because it is showing the difference between the same town the old side and the new side.

The next two images are from an abandoned village Vretsia I explored while living in Cyprus.  Vretsia is a village nestled in the foothills of the Paphos Forest and was once the home of Turkish Cypriots.  During 1960 Cyprus gained independence and during this time a series of conflicts were caused by the fact that Greek Cypriots wanted to achieve enosis with Greece.  This shook the peace between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots and in 1974 a coup was carried out by the Greek Cypriots and in response to this Turkey invaded causing Turkish Cypriots to flee to the north and Greek Cypriots to flee to the south.  Houses once homes to families and even whole villages became deserted.  For me, these images is a ‘window’ to the past but also a ‘mirror’ because for these Cypriots it is a sad reminder of the cause of the conflict.


The next images again it was one of my images I created for my context and narrative assignment 3 – The self-portrait.  Influenced by the work of Woodman it was during this time I started using my photography as a means to create more personal work and I decided to turn the camera on myself.  This image is a true reflection of myself and my struggles and therefore for me, it is a ‘mirror’ because it shows my struggles with anxiety and depression.


The next image is one I took while exploring Cape Greco.  This was our last day of exploring before moving back to the UK.  The image is of a man sat on a rock the rough sea crashing between these rocks.  I don’t know who the man is or where he is from for me he looked like a tourist.  This image is a window it shows us a man may be a tourist maybe not enjoying the beauty Cyprus has to offer.


The first image is one of two people enjoying the Limmasol Carnival, the Limmasol Carnival is held 12 days before the Christian season of Lent on Sunday before Ash Monday, 50 days before Orthodox Easter.  I feel that this image works as a window as it shows us the Cypriot culture and their celebrations.


The next image is one I took for my first assignment 1 for this course.  The photograph shows a man working on making silver.  The man is from Lefkara one of the oldest villages in Cyprus.  The village is known for its handmade lace and silver.  This image is a window to the work the people do in the village.


This is still one of my favourite portraits.  created at a place called Alexandros I meet this amazing woman she is a horse trainer and loves working and training these beautiful wild horses this image is a ‘window’ and ‘mirror’ that shows her love for these horses.

The last two images I have chosen was taken on the Isle of Wight the first image was taken on the grounds of Carisbrook Castle it is of my family and the other image is of an abandoned building near my mother in laws houseboat.  The Isle of Wight is a place my husband grew up, my daughter was born there as well and his family has lived there for many generations and still does and therefore this images is more personal and therefore works as a mirror for me.