Carved from wood and leafed with gold, photographic negatives and electronic screens — frames are abundant, diverse, and challenging. A frame focuses the attention and experience of a viewer. To frame something is to make it special, and to reframe something is to give it a new context. They are themselves works of art, but modestly, often overshadowed.
We’re delighted to offer a frame, Frame in a Frame, as one of our very first stickers: a precious, baroque early-American frame, ready-made for you to live with, remix, and explore the act of framing. At Apply, we respect and question the frame: we celebrate it for its strengths and are challenged by its fallibility.
The act of framing can be fun and whimsical, but it is also inherently political. What is shown in a picture has a great deal to do with who is showing (or framing) it. The framer isolates and elevates one aspect as important within a frame, over and above what remains outside of it. There is an asymmetric power relationship between framer (author/artist) and the object being framed. This is a choice and a value judgement that was once reserved for artists, which smartphones have made available. We all make pictures now; we frame and reframe the world and in doing so, we also make choices about how to represent our experience in the world.
Just as the acts of framing by individual authors and artists should be questioned, so too should framing by institutions and organizations, including our company. The images we choose to frame (to include in our library – in this case, a frame), are real choices that reveal our values, aspirations, and subjectivity.
Many of our images are notably sourced from public domain archives maintained by some of the world’s leading museums. At best, these institutions capture and contextualize a global diversity of culture, creativity, and human achievement. While these collections are broad, extraordinary, and educational, they are also at times problematic, and implicated in their own political, at times ugly, acts of framing. Consider for example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s grouping of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas – a legacy of Nelson Rockefeller’s personal collection from the Museum of Primitive Art (Anisa Tavanga writes beautifully on this primitivism).
While conscious of our own fallibility, we’re committed to being responsible framers. This means providing context where needed, celebrating diverse viewpoints and cultural practices, and above all, recognizing our own limitations and soliciting feedback. In Frame in a Frame, we offer you an extraordinarily precious frame. We invite you to use it to examine the world, to frame and reframe, and explore this charged act that is so essential in contemporary culture.
- Artist Unknown, S. P. Peck Apothecary, Daguerreotype, Art Institute of Chicago, 1839-1860.
- Alfred Stieglitz, Family & Friends at Mittenwalk, Lantern Slide, 1879-1889.
- Wood Frame, From Portrait of Countess Phelps-Resse, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 19th century.
- Pere Borrell del Caso (1835-1910), Escaping criticism, 1874, in trompe l’oeil painted frame, The Frame Blog, Collection of the Banco de España, Madrid.
- Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2020.