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  • Writer's pictureEllie Rankin


(Mis)Understanding Photography Works and Manifestos June 14 – August 17, 2014 “What is photography? Is it a print, an object or is it a jpg on your screen? Does it only exist if you print it out? Does it only count if it’s a big file, a TIFF? Or is it a snapshot on your phone or a slide projection, or is it the image you see in your mind before you click the shutter? Is it that great picture you missed, the time you ran out of film or the camera jammed or you didn’t even have your camera with you? In short, is photography an object or an image, or is it a way of seeing?” (Zoe Leonard)

Ever since its invention 175 years ago artists have consistently questioned the nature of photography. Today artists acutely aware of the omnipresence of photographic images produce works exploring numerous aspects of photography: its materiality, its popularism, its psychological impact, its claims to objectivity, and its force in mass media. Against a familiar backdrop of the accelerating disappearance of analog photography and the simultaneously triumphal progress of digital photography, these works explore new ways of re-picturing and inhabiting that history. The exhibition presents a history of photography that is wild and ironic, with tinges of melancholy here and there.

The second part of the exhibition – Manifestos – presents ground-breaking texts by those who are always the most radical writers on photography: photographers themselves. László Moholy-Nagy, August Sander, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Martha Rosler and Germaine Krull and many others wrote strong declarative texts – in a 20th century context of avant-garde movements deeply wound up with photography announcing their intentions in seminal publications of all sorts and even radio broadcasts exhorting readers and listeners to see the world with new eyes through the medium. Refl ected in an elaborate spatial scenography, the manifestos are displayed alongside photographic incunabula of their authors.

Wunderkammer (pictured) by Clare Strand  from(Mis) Understanding Photography 2014

'Constructed nature of the photograph, and the rejection of a narrowly conceived traditional concept of a photograph.'

'Photography becomes an instrument of power and control'

'Recording and rendering visible'

'Tests the parameters of photography, how photography can be turned against itself'
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