World's Fairs (Landscape and Modernity: Series 8)

The photographer Jade Doskow is capturing and creating images of the once-grand spectacles called World's Fairs. Her photographs do triple duty: they track down those old sites, in cities across the world (from Brussels to Seville, from New York to Spokane, from Paris to Philadelphia); they call back to the technological grandeur such exhibitions sought to promote; and they put those now-decaying sites into a contemporary landscape, setting up questions about past and present and hoped-for futures and the role of technological throughout.


Caption from TMN: "'The Columbian Exposition,' Site of Manufacture Liberal Arts Building, Grand Peristyle, and Agriculture Building, View 2"

I feel like we have to showcase this set, given it's name and theme. Plus, I like it, the set of images below. A couple of the prior Landscape and Modernity sets were but links to galleries at The Morning News (like the West and trees). So too this one.

Rosecrans Baldwin, interviewing the artist at TMN, notes that "once upon a time, you needed to visit the latest World's Fair to see what was new--and the structures and relics of those events still live among us, even if they're treated like so many architectural burger wrappers." But you can still stop at this World's Fair, and treat images of past World's Fairs as but more entries into our hyperlinked cabinet of curiosity. At least here you get references to Knoxville '82. I don't see Doskow calling on that one, though her pictures of Spokane might be just as well.

Below are a few more, from Philly 1876; Brussels 1897; and New York 1964.


TMN's caption: "Philadelphia 1876 World's Fair, "Centennial Exposition," Fair Toilet Buildings, 2008"


TMN's caption: "Brussels 1897 World's Fair. "Exposition Internationale de Bruxelles," Parc du Cinquentenaire, 2007-08"


TMNs caption: "New York 1964 World's Fair, "Peace Through Understanding," Unisphere, 2009"

In addition to this New York one, check out videos of their World's Fair from You can see the Unisphere as it was originally constructed. Comparing the original to the image above draws the triple duty that Doskow's photographs call out: it's a representation of exhibitions gone by; her image gives a sense of scale and grandeur and hope that seems still crisp today, yet is at the same time diminished by the passage of time; and the original shows the promise and inspiration of a future technological world just in the way it means to represent the then-current world.

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Thanks for posting these photos. I went to the 1964 Worlds Fair in Queens and I've been fascinated with these events ever since.

By Steve Essich (not verified) on 25 Jun 2009 #permalink

Hello Benjamin, Thank you for posting my photographs! I really appreciate the way you describe the intentions of the pictures and the project. The more sites I shoot, the more complex the ideas contained in the pictures become.