The “Lost Rolls America” exhibit features a mesmerizing array of images from old, forgotten rolls of film and opens a magical re-encounter with the past by celebrating the role that photographs have long played in our lives, in shaping the construction of our memories.
Lost Rolls America
Ron Haviv, Robert Peacock
“Lost Rolls America” is a new and unique kind of Americana archive. In the age of image saturation, this archive slows the pace of our instantaneous digital world and commemorates the role that analog photos have played in all of our lives.
Comprising photos from the broad American public, the archive features images from old rolls of film that have been set aside and forgotten. Processing those lost rolls today allows for a magical re-encounter with the past.
The archive is a visual repository of America’s past: from West Coast to East Coast; from a 1969 Vietnam War protest to the aftermath of September 11 and beyond; from special occasions to mundane moments, all that constitutes daily life, captured on film but then often forgotten. The pictures offer poignant and even surprising glimpses into which images are most meaningful to America’s visual past.
The “Lost Rolls America” archive is an amazing testament to how much photography plays a role in remembering our own pasts.
This exhibition represents the photography of the broad American public: professional photographers, hobbyists and complete photo novices. These images constitute the visual memories of all of our pasts: parents, children, pets, vacations, lovers, mundane moments, historic events, nature scenes, urban spaces, travel and much more. Comprising the work of the public, this exhibition simultaneously invites visitors to see the past through others’ photos and to experience shared memories.
Photography has always played a role as an aid to personal memory. As we plunge forward into the digital age, “Lost Rolls America” (LRA) recognizes and celebrates that role as it occurred through analog photography. With the passage of time, the rolls we each have misplaced or forgotten in our homes will disappear or degrade. LRA acts as a call to action to discover those lost images and the stories connected to them, and to fill in the gaps from the past before it becomes too late.
Lost Rolls America (LRA) was founded by award-winning photographer Ron Haviv. The project editors are Robert Peacock and Lauren Walsh, with design by Roger Gorman. LRA is supported by FujiFilm, PhotoWings and PhotoShelter.
This project celebrates the role that photographs play in shaping the construction of memory. Walsh, a professor at NYU and expert in memory and photography, explains, “The submitted photos invite us into others’ lives. In many cases, we can recognize aspects of ourselves in others’ pasts. For instance: That image makes me reflect on my own family; or that child reminds me of myself; or I took a similar vacation. It’s eye-opening to see how much we have in common through found photos.”
The archive, which exists permanently online and is now on display for the first time at Photoville, demonstrates the remarkable power of photography, even amateur photography, in documenting and recuperating moments from the past.