A Place I Never Knew

A Place I Never Knew, Photographs by Tira Khan

November 14, 2022 – February 20, 2023

A Place I Never Knew (2019) explores Rampur, India, a Muslim-majority city and artist Tira Khan’s ancestral home. Formerly a Princely State of British India, Rampur gained independence in 1949. Today, the city struggles with increasing poverty and illiteracy. Ranging from sensitive portraits of residents to photographs of urban structures and homes, Khan’s images are intensely colorful and crisp. The artist’s eye for juxtaposition, texture, and color effectively bridge the past and present to capture the complexities of this little-known city. Throughout the series, Khan grapples with her relationship to Rampur, a place she never knew despite her family ties. 

About the Artist

Photographer Tira Khan is based in Newton, Massachusetts. She began her career as a writer, working as a staff reporter at daily newspapers. Khan’s work explores the meaning of family and the architecture of place, and she believes documentary photography is important as both art and historical record. She exhibits her work internationally in galleries, books, magazines, and festivals.

In 2022, Khan was Artist in Residence at the Boston Athenæum and documented the changing spaces of the library during its historic renovation.

Related Programming

Meet the Artist: A Conversation with Tira Khan & Laura Weinstein

Join photographer Tira Khan and Laura Weinstein, the Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for a spirited evening of questions and conversation. The two will discuss Khan’s series A Place I Never Knew (2019) that is currently on view on the Athenaeum’s first floor. This photographic series, ranging from sensitive portraits of residents to photographs of urban structures and homes, explores Rampur, India, a Muslim-majority city and the artist’s ancestral home.

Link: https://community.bostonathenaeum.org/s/events

What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women,1843-1999

What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women, 1843-1999
A Hands-on Reading Room Exhibition, Henry Long Room

Organized in collaboration with  10 x 10 Photobooks

March 2-4, 2023

The Boston Athenaeum is pleased to present What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women, 1843-1999, a hands-on reading room showcasing a global selection of photobooks by female photographers from photography’s beginnings to the dawn of the 21st century. 


Exploring Photobooks by Women 
Leventhal Meeting Room 

March 2, 2023, 6-8pm

Free, Registration HERE, Wine and Cheese Reception to Follow

Join us for an exciting conversation on the history of photobooks by women. Panelists include Anne Havinga (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Chair, Department of Photography), Professor Kim Sichel (Boston University, Professor of History of Art & Architecture), Harvey Silverglate, and Dr. Stephanie Tung (Peabody Essex Museum Byrne Family Curator of Photography). 

Spotlight Talks

Hosted in the Henry Long Room

Free with Athenaeum admission. Registration not required. 

Throughout the event speakers will present short talks on a photobook in the Reading Room. 

March 2

11am Kristen Gresh, MFA, Boston, Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Senior Curator of Photographs

Lola Álvarez Bravo, Acapulco en el Sueño (Alcapulco in the Dream)

12pm Karen Haas, MFA, Boston, Lane Senior Curator of Photographs 

Frances Benjamin Johnston, The Hampton Album 

1pm Joanne Lukitsh, MassArt Professor

Julia Margaret Cameron, Lord Tennyson and His Friends

2pm Gabrielle Reed, MassArt Librarian

Sophie Calle, L’Hotel 

3pm Lisa McCarty, Northeastern Photography Professor

Nell Dorr, Of Night and Day

4pm Caitlin Pereira, MassArt Library Visual Resources Director

Imogen Cunningham, Imogen Cunningham: Photographs

March 3

11am Alisa Prince, Boston University Postdoc

Carrie Mae Weems, In These Islands: South Carolina-Georgia

12pm Billie Mandle, MassArt Photography Professor

JEB, Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians

1pm Lynne Allen, Boston University Fine Arts Professor

Mary A. Bartlett, Mother Goose of ‘93

2pm Delaney Burns, Boston University MFA student

Anna Atkins, Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms

3pm Toni Pepe, Boston University Photography Professor

Jo Spence, Putting Myself in the Picture

4pm Sybylla Smith, Independent curator and educator

Donna Ferrato, Living with the Enemy

March 4 

11am Morgan Snoap, Boston University PhD student

Angèle Etoundi Essamba, Passion

12pm Renee Brown, Boston University PhD student

Berenice Abbott, Changing New York

1pm Jesse Dritz, Boston University PhD student

Abigail Heyman, Growing Up Female

2pm Karl Baden, Boston College Photography Professor

Nan Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency

Children’s Library

Join us in the children’s library for a display of Children’s photobooks. 

Story Time

Saturday, March 4, 11:00am

Families with children of all ages are invited to a special story time with photobooks, rhymes, and songs. 

Materialia Lumina | Luminous Books: Concept & Craft in Contemporary Artists’ Books

Suzanne Moore, Zero: Cypher of Infinity (Vashon Island, Washington, 2014)

Suzanne Moore, Zero: Cypher of Infinity (Vashon Island, Washington, 2014)

Sue Anderson and Gwen Harrison, Howl for a Black Cockatoou (Sydney: Impediment Press, 2015)

Materialia Lumina | Luminous Books: Concept & Craft in Contemporary Artists’ Books

November 15, 2022 – March 11, 2023

Materialia Lumina | Luminous Books showcases a selection of outstanding contemporary artists’ books created by some of the world’s most accomplished makers over the past twenty-five years. The books embody a distinctive marriage of “high craft” with “high concept.” They demonstrate a mastery of the traditional arts of the book—printing, printmaking, typography, calligraphy, bookbinding, papermaking, and graphic design—intersecting vigorously with the conceptual daring and exploratory nature of the best contemporary art. The exhibition explores the extraordinary level of skill and persistence involved in creating these beautiful works, as well as their unique power to speak to a range of contemporary issues and concerns. 

These forty selections from the Athenæum’s holdings and the collection of a generous private lender were drawn from a curated list of 75 exemplary works, out of more than 6,000 pieces exhibited at the CODEX International Book Fair, the world’s largest venue for contemporary artists’ books, since the fair’s inception in 2007. The Athenæum is one of three venues for this international exhibition, along with Stanford University Libraries and the Klingspor Museum in Offenbach, Germany. A substantial catalog, with descriptive essays and extensive illustrations, accompanies the exhibition. 

Books on display from the Boston Athenæum’s collection are cataloged in Athena, the Athenaeum’s online catalog, and can be consulted in the Vershbow Special Collections reading room after the exhibition concludes.

The exhibition was curated by John Buchtel and designed by Jennifer L. Munson. The exhibition catalog, Materialia Lumina: Contemporary Artists’ Books from the CODEX International Book Fair, was jointly published by the CODEX Foundation and Stanford University Libraries with support from the Boston Athenæum. Works featured in the catalog were selected by Peter Koch, Susan Filter, Roberto Trujillo, and members of the CODEX Foundation Board of Directors.