This is a snippet from an amazing conversation between Anthony Luvera and Stefanie Braun in Critical Cities Volume 2; Ideas, knowledge and agitation from emerging urbanist
SB: The photographs in this project are taken by homeless or ex-homeless people. The creation of each ‘self-portrait’ is assisted by you, but ultimately as a photographer, you stay in the background. This really challenges the idea of authorship by exploring the potential for a photographic practice rooted in active interpretation rather than just passive representation, which has been the case of so much ‘humanitarian’ social documentary photography. However there is a certain hierarchy there…or maybe not? How would you describe your role – curator, author, collaborator, or something else? (my emphasis).
AL: Essentially I’m interested in working with photography, and this will manifest in different ways at different times. It might be that I operate a camera myself, or perhaps I will ask other people to make photographs for me to use. Or it might be that I write and speak publicly about photography. I think there can be many ways for photographers to use photography. I don’t think that the photographer necessarily needs to be the person who holds a camera a presses the shutter release.
In relation to Photographs and Assisted Self-Portraits in London and Residency in Belfast my activity as the author of these projects may be seen to encompass such roles as curator, collaborator, facilitator or educator. I feel it is important to acknowledge the participants as the creators of their photographs and the other materials they have allowed me to use, however I think it would be erroneous to overstate the co-productive methodology of the projects as being co-authored. Ultimately the participants’ photographs are framed by my practice and the contexts that I seek out to present the work. I’m not sure that looking at photographs made by people gets us any closer to a representation of their reality, but hopefully their is an expansion of subjectivity in the presentation – in that it might offer many points of view rather than just that of the author. 1
- Anthony Luvera and Stefanie Braun, “And how must a photographer behave?,” in Critical Cities Volume 2; Ideas, knowledge and agitation from emerging urbanists, ed. Deepa Naik and Trenton Oldfield (London: Myrdle Court Press, 2010), 176–179. ↩