Richard Barnes at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago

Richard Barnes | Dramatic architectural photograph of the unibomber cabin in California


Two of Richard Barnes' photographs of the Unabomber cabin are included in the Museum of Contemporary Photography's current exhibition titled, What Does Democracy Look Like?. 

In the late 1990s, Barnes gained exclusive access through the New York Times and United States Government to photograph the cabin of Theodore Kaczynski,  the Unabomber. With his background photographing archaeological evidence, photographing the Unabomber cabin was natural by extension. Barnes spent two days at the Sacramento warehouse where the cabin was relocated 1,100 miles from its original location in Montana by the FBI for trial in California. Interested in the notion of "a volume within a volume, a building within a building,"  Barnes photographed the cabin in complete isolation, removed from all other evidence and debris within the warehouse. The result is a series of sterile photographs documenting, what Barnes considers, "an artefact of our time." Richard Barnes is the only photographer to have photographed the 14 by 13 foot Unabomber cabin.

In advance of the 2020 presidential election, What Does Democracy Look Like? asks the six guest curators to interrogate the Museum of Contemporary Photography's collection of 16,000 artworks, considering "what democracy means to them, and how photographic images record and shape our understanding of current and historical events."

Located in Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography is the world's leading college art museum—a part of Columbia College Chicago—whose mission is "to cultivate a deeper understanding of the artistic, cultural and political roles of photography in our world today."



New York-based artist Richard Barnes' photography has been shown in solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Carpenter Center at Harvard University, Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, and the University of Michigan Art Museum.

The artist's work can be found in numerous public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  Barnes is the recipient of the prestigious Julius Schulman Award for 2011 and previously was a recipient of the Rome Prize 2005-2006. The photographs of the cabin of Ted Kaczynski, aka the "Unabomber," were featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial and awarded the Alfred Eisenstadt Award for Photography.


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