NEW YORK — If photography is to retain the high cultural standing it won for itself in the 20th century, we probably want less of it, not more.
There’s no chance of that happening, of course. But the problem facing the medium today is undoubtedly acute. Diminished in the digital age by its staggering ubiquity, photography also has been rendered untrustworthy, its once precious relationship to reality sabotaged by the limitless possibilities of digital manipulation.
To counter the medium’s rolling collapse into banality, gallery presentations of photographs have lately tended toward smaller, more discriminating selections (solo shows rather than big group surveys), magnified prints (size signals prestige) and a renewed fascination with the medium’s 19th-century beginnings.
“The New Woman Behind the Camera” bucks all of these trends — which may help explain why everyone is talking about it. It’s a big, baggy show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in