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
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
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
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
How do you take pictures of somebody in a way that brings them to the table instead of putting them on the menu?
– Sharita Towne in conversation about Our City in Stereo with Gemma-Rose Turnbull, NE Killingsworth Street, Portland, Oregon 11 July 2016
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
How do you take pictures of somebody in a way that brings them to the table instead of putting them on the menu? – Sharita Towne Our City in Stereo, a project led by artist Sharita Towne, combines the old medium of stereo views with stereo interviews to explore the… 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.
From Pete Brook’s recent article on the brilliant and considered way that Nigel Poor is activating an archive of images at the San Quentin Prison in California for The Atlantic. Poor uses the photos as teaching tools to draw out the emotional content of the photos. Once she has… Continue reading
petebrook 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 spectacle—that permits this experience to have a purchase on the public imaginary. (my emphasis)
 Bishop, C., & Creative Time (2011, May). Participation and Spectacle: Where Are We Now? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvXhgAmkvLs
“The social, political and ameliorative objectives in historical social documentary photography are not dissimilar to some of the imperatives in ‘participatory’ art practice trends. These social and political aspects referred to relate to the desire to work with a social or political cause. The ameliorative has to do with the wish to correct a situation by drawing attention to it, making it visible, and the desire to ‘correct’ a situation, which, I have suggested, operates within a ‘liberal’ domain, representing a desire to ‘bring good and truth to the world’, to remediate and repair. Often, however, this operates at surface level only. In many instances it does not serve to break apart the mindsets and structures that create those situations. Strategies engaging participatory practice do not necessarily solve the photographic dilemma of finding ways to grant equal agency to both subject and photographer. In fact, these strategies often captivate the audience with a feigned authenticity, one that only serves to create another layer of ambiguity in the ‘truth factor’ of the photograph.”
– Natasha Christopher. “The whole truth, nothing but the truth: Photography and participatory practice.” In Wide Angle: Photography as Public Practice, edited by Terry Kurgan, 76-88 (88). Johannesburg: Fourthwall Books, 2015. iBook, e-book.
“My practice as an artist and the collaborative photographs disrupt the classist and elitist viewpoint that only the wealthy, educated or the privileged can report, research and write about economy, politics, history, working and living conditions. I believe the answers to making a more equitable and sustainable future in the rustbelt resides in the families and individuals that have endured the greatest hardship. The people of these regions that outside reporters, journalists, commentators and politicians continue to ignore should not wait for mass media to tell their story. It’s not a matter of vulnerability, it’s a matter of empowerment.”
Wide Angle: Photography as Participatory Practice is a wide-ranging collection of essays in response to the subject of participatory photographic practice. Edited by Terry Kurgan and Tracy Murinik Published by Fourthwall Books ISBN 978-0-9922404-0-0 Acknowledging that the political and ethical status of photography is never uncomplicated terrain, contributors to this… Continue reading
“In his book, Bending the Frame, Fred Ritchin called for photographers to produce “visual reference points,” for ways forward not simply an index of past struggles. If we focus on the process, and bring to the forefront the social interactions that went into the photograph, as well as those that its exhibition inspires, we can begin to see how those reference points could be created. By championing and further investigating the social aesthetics of photography; by viewing the production of the image as a staging ground for interaction, and its exhibition as an equally exciting realm for dialogue, exchange, and community action; by seeing the socio-political potential behind every creative choice; then our images can begin to create those reference points, and can propose and realize new ways of seeing, understanding, and being within the world.”
From the PHOTOGRAPHY AND SOCIAL PRACTICE broadsheet, May 2014.
This is reposted from the Magnum Foundation tumblr. –––––– We’re excited to share the opening of Tactics of Collaboration: A Participatory Playbook, an exhibition of an ongoing collaboration with Photography, Expanded Fellow Mark Strandquist at the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative in Charlottesville, Virginia. This exhibition was held in conjunction with the 2015 LOOK3 Festival of the… Continue reading
“As documentary photographers integrate participatory and collaborative practices into their projects––inviting people who were previously ‘subjects’ to become co-creators––there is an increased tension between the process and the photographic product. When we move towards making work that is co-authored, how do we meet the needs of our collaborators (as the primary audience of the work), and communicate the primary experience to the secondary audience (anyone secondary to the people making the work)?
Basically, how can we continue to utilize the visceral, affective visual language of documentary photography to activate for social change, while democratising the process of creating those images with people, instead of of people?”
From the PHOTOGRAPHY AND SOCIAL PRACTICE broadsheet, May 2014.
“I’ve just spent three years working on a project with a writer; it was one of the great experiences of my life, but I’m dying to get back to work alone on something. That said, I have no idea how my new work will eventually be presented. While… Continue reading
“This stategy evolved when I sensed that I couldn’t work with a single image, even with a series of images, as I had before. The complexities were not going to be seen through my images alone. I’m deeply interested in the photograph as a record of an encounter and enjoy putting myself in a timeline of image-makers, alongside other travellers, such anthropologists, colonists, missionaries, and even tourists. I do that to emphasize subjectivity, rather than privilege any single perspective – I see myself as only one of many storytellers.”
Meiselas, S. in Bright, S. (2011), “Encounters with the Dani: Stories from the Baliem Valley,” Art Photography Now, pp 168
First Base Day Centre from Assembly by Anthony Luvera, 2013-2014 ASSEMBLY is an exhibition of work created over a twelve-month period by Anthony Luvera with people who have experienced homelessness living in Brighton. As part of Assembly, Luvera invited individuals associated with First Base Day Centre and Phase One Project to use… Continue reading