Sarasota Florida—The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art has been approved for a
$30,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support Metadata: Rethinking Photography from the
21st Century. This project is an exhibition that explores new paradigms for understanding the
ecology of the photographic image. The Ringling’s project is among the more than 1,100
projects across America totaling nearly $27 million that were selected during this second round
of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2021 funding.
“As the country and the arts sector begin to imagine returning to a post-pandemic world, the
National Endowment for the Arts is proud to announce funding that will help arts organizations
such as The Ringling reengage fully with partners and audiences,” said NEA Acting chairperson
Ann Eilers. “Although the arts have sustained many during the pandemic, the chance to gather
with one another and share arts, experiences are its own necessity and pleasure.”
“The generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts allows The Ringling to engage in
projects that allow us to stretch and bend in new and exciting ways,” said Steven High, The
Ringling’s Executive Director. “We look forward to sharing this intriguing exhibition with
diverse audiences as visitors return to the museum and once again experience the joy of art in
The term “metadata” is used to describe the information that travels with a digital image file but
is unseen within the image itself. This data includes the details about the digital photograph’s
creation, its ownership, and how it is situated within structures of order. In our networked digital
environment, metadata is accessed by both human users and artificial intelligence. Software
algorithms orchestrate what images we see and exchange while collecting the valuable data
generated by our interactions. In our moment, dominated by image-based social media and
surveillance, we are becoming increasingly aware that understanding the information that
circulates unseen around photographic images is just as important as seeing what they represent.
The exhibition features work from the past decade by an international selection of artists and
visual activists that are working to make palpable the unseen information, or metadata that
undergirds the image regime. This includes not just the tags or descriptors attached to image
files, but the power relationships, biases, and economic interests that are not always visible in the
image itself. The exhibition emphasizes an expanded concept of photographic practice that
intersects with research-based projects, installation, and social engagement.
The exhibition, curated by Christopher Jones, Stanton B. and Nancy W. Kaplan Curator of
Photography and Media Art will run from March 6 through Aug. 28, 2022.