In 1955 the Museum of Modern Art in New York opened one of the most popular photography exhibitions of all time: The Family of Man. Visitors marveled at images hung over their heads, mounted by their feet, and dangling in midair. This essay shows how The Family of Man and its mode of display marked the simultaneous emergence of a newly liberating politics of attention and a newly constraining mode of social control—both of which remain key features of our contemporary landscape.

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