Keeper of the Hearth

Picturing Roland Barthes’ Unseen Photograph

Keeper of the Hearth: Picturing Roland Barthes’ Unseen Photograph, is the first exhibition of Odette England’s book by the same name, which was published in the US in March 2020, marking the 40th year of Roland Barthes’ renowned work, Camera Lucida (La chambre claire). As part of this project, England invited more than 200 photography-based artists, writers, critics, curators, and historians from around the world to contribute an image or text that reflects on the instigator of Barthes’ semiotic musings—a photograph of his mother, Henriette, aged 5, that is never seen in the book, and is perhaps one of the most famous unseen photographs in the world.

Contributors include established artists such as David Levi-Strauss, Alec Soth, Rosalind Fox Solomon, and Mona Kuhn as well as emerging and mid-career artists and critics including Stanley Wolukau Wanambwa, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Jess T. Dugan. From a diverse array of found photographs to intimate portraits of artists’ lives, this exhibition creates a multitude of platforms from which to consider the theoretical conversations about photography—not only what we see but how we see—that continue to shape our understanding of the medium today. In addition to coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Camera Lucida, this exhibition opens two seasons of programs celebrating the 40th anniversary of Houston Center for Photography.


View the Exhibition by Appointment

HCP welcomes back our community as we reopen our gallery by appointment. Admission remains free, but guests are required to register for their appointment time, and each person entering the gallery must show their appointment e-ticket or present a printed ticket for admissions.

All tickets have an entry time. Please arrive at your designated time so you can enter promptly and have plenty of time to view the exhibition. We recommend registering for your appointment online in advance to secure your preferred date and time and to have a contactless experience when you arrive.

A limited number of free virtual tours are available for schools and community partners. Please email Natalie Rodgers at natalie@hcponline.org for details and to make an appointment.

Gallery Reopening:

  • 45-minute time slots
  • 50% capacity

Gallery Hours:

  • Wednesday–Thursday: 11 am – 7 pm
  • Friday: 11 am – 5 pm
  • Saturday–Sunday: 11 am – 7 pm

For more questions about the virtual program, please contact: samuel@hcponline.org

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please note audio, video, and other information sent during this Zoom session may be recorded. By joining this session, you automatically consent to such recordings. If you do not consent to be recorded, please turn off your video sharing within the application or consider not joining the session.

Exhibition On View

September 10, 2020 – January 10, 2021

Virtual Opening Reception

September 10, 2020; 6:30 – 7:30 pm CST
Curator and Artist Remarks begin at 6:30 pm CST

Related Programming

Words & Pictures: Surfaces for Feelings: an online discussion moderated by Barbara Levine, featuring panelists Alejandro Cartagena, Laurel Nakadate, and Ka-Man Tse

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

1-2 pm CST


Virtual Tours for Schools and Community Partners

Monday – Friday, by appointment

Download the Teacher Guide