Magnum Foundation Symposium

  The 2017 Magnum Foundation Photography Expanded Symposium will explore collaborative approaches to creative documentary practice.   The Photography, Expanded symposium is an annual full-day event that is free and open to the public. The symposium draws practitioners and storytellers across media to be inspired by exemplary case studies of innovative … Continue reading

Thinking about
who
represents
whom,
and
for whom,
is key to
my practice.

– Helen Cammock is an artist and artist facilitator. She lectures across the UK on participatory practice and is committed to exploring and evolving the way participation opens up dialogue, and aims to ensure that diverse voices are platformed in the cultural contexts she works in.

Culture Shifts

Culture Shifts is a new socially engaged photography programme led by Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, UK and supported by a strategic touring fund from Arts Council England. Working across a host of social housing, local authority culture and health partners and communities across the Liverpool and Merseyside city regions, we … Continue reading

Photography & Social Practice Workshop: Critical Questions and Resources

  The Photography & Social Practice Workshop will provide a forum for the Open Engagement community to shape a large conversation that will aim to unfold through a book, a blog, an exhibition and a daylong event in conjunction with partners such as Aperture, the Magnum Foundation and OE 2018. … Continue reading

Diane Dammeyer Fellowship in Photographic Arts and Social Issues

The Diane Dammeyer Fellowship in Photographic Arts and Social Issues creates a space for a socially-engaged photographer to produce a compelling and dynamic body of work highlighting human rights and social issues.   Fereshteh Toosi, the 2015-16 Dammeyer Fellow, spent her year building relationships with the residents of Leland Apartments, … Continue reading

Round Table: Community Photography, Now and Then.

A round table discussion with several photographers discussing the theme of community photography from Photoworks Collaboration Issue. Topics address questions such as the definitions surrounding collaborative photography practices, an overview of several artistic traditions which have converged in contemporary community photography, and the dynamics between photographer artists and their audiences. … Continue reading

TAKING PART: Participatory Artist In Residence programme

Photofusion host four 90-day residencies for emerging participatory lens-based artists. Photofusion is a hub for photographers of all backgrounds in South London. Working in a diverse and challenging borough since 1992, Photofusion has a proud history of community engagement including work with local schools, young offenders, social housing associations and … Continue reading

“I also struggle with the term ‘participatory photography’ because it is such a broad term and there is so much bad practice. I am going to talk frankly: there is so much bad practice and so many do-good, damaging, crappy, boring projects. I feel like I can’t really speak in this conversation because we are using terms that I don’t think I understand or can define.”

 
– Eugenie Dolberg in a roundtable discussion between Ben Burbridge, Anthony Luvera, Matt Daw, Andrew Dewdney, and Noni Stacey for the Photoworks Annual Issue on Collaboration. “Round Table: Community Photography, Now and Then.” Photoworks Annual, no. 21 no. 21 (October 1, 2013): 126–49 (136).

“Photographers seem ever more aware of the representational responsibilities which comes with their craft, but the question of who is actually doing this representing remains just as important as who is being represented and how. In a field like documentary photography this question becomes particularly essential, if only because it’s unrealistic to expect an adequate reflection of the world in all its messy complexity, when privileged, white, western men remain so often the ones taking the photographs and defining the terms of representation, dissemination, and so many other things.” – Lewis Bush.

 
This is a great discussion between Lewis Bush and Max Houghton on Disphotic, which is a blog on visual culture written by Bush. Although the conversation is specifically about women photographers in documentary photography, the sentiment of the quote above and the full commentary about tokenism vs. equitable representation are equally applicable to role of community co-authors in co-productive photographic projects. You can read the article in full here.

Women Of York: Shared Dining

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 This book ‘Women Of York: Shared Dining’ was made by Susan Meiselas (@s_meiselas1963) with women incarcerated at York Correctional Institution for Women. It’s a contemporary response to Judy Chicago’s famous feminist work ‘Dinner Party’ (which is permanently installed at the Brooklyn Museum). My first impressions were “This book is ugly with chintzy design, fonts in all different colours.” It was put together by the industry great Yolanda Cuomo Design, so what gives? Here’s what. Susan handed over total and collective decision-making to the women. The shape, the images, the text, the layout, the fonts, the sequencing and much more. Susan got out of the way entirely. This is their book. Susan, with others, just helped it along. It’s an amazing socially-engaged project. And I need to stop being such a snob.

In using people as a medium, participatory art has always had a double ontological status: it is both an event in the world, and at one removed from it. As such, it has the capacity to communicate on two levels—to participants and to spectators—the paradoxes that are repressed in everyday discourse, and to elicit perverse, disturbing, and pleasurable experiences that enlarge our capacity to imagine the world and our relations anew. But to reach the second level requires a mediating third term—an object, image, story, film, even a spectaclethat permits this experience to have a purchase on the public imaginary.[1] (my emphasis)


[1] Bishop, C., & Creative Time (2011, May). Participation and Spectacle: Where Are We Now? [Video file]. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/24193060