In 2005, when the world’s leading museums were paying particular attention to their photography departments, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (MAM-Rio) took an important step by incorporating the Joaquim Paiva Collection into its own collection on a loan basis. To celebrate the arrival of its almost two thousand photographs, MAM-Rio held an exhibition of a sample of the works the following year: “All Too Human, Joaquim Paiva Collection.” Since then, it has put on a further 12 exhibitions either exclusively showcasing the Joaquim Paiva Collection or including some of its works in joint exhibitions. In total, some 116,000 people visited these 13 shows.
Ten years after the first exhibition of the Joaquim Paiva Collection, MAM-Rio is casting a new gaze over these works, presenting a diverse selection of some of its highlights. The over 100 photographers and artists from different generations and countries represented here include Ansel Adams, Claudia Andujar, Diane Arbus, Evandro Teixeira, Grete Stern, Geraldo de Barros, José Medeiros, Marcel Gautherot, Martín Chambi, Pierre Verger, and Rosângela Rennó. Seen together, they reveal a broad panorama of the history of photography from its more documental branches to the present era of digital images and the consolidation of the photograph as a medium for artistic expression.
Walking around the exhibition, other nuances of the collection become apparent, underlining its importance and the need to keep it on permanent display, while also confirming the commitment of MAM-Rio not just to preserving its collections but also to making them available to the public. Together, these works rethink, reinvent, and push back the boundaries of photography as both a technique and a poetic language. And they also prompt us to consider what the act of collecting is, or at least what it should be.