Participatory photography – Jack of all trades, master of none?

Foreword When I wrote ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ eight years ago I was just beginning to explore the relationship between photographers and those they picture. Participatory photography (PP) was considered rather hip at the time, partly fuelled by the success of the film ‘Born into Brothels.’ I was … Continue reading

If You Think You’re Giving Students of Color a Voice, Get Over Yourself

“The idea of “giving” students voice, especially when it refers to students of color, only serves to reify the dynamic of paternalism that renders Black and Brown students voiceless until some salvific external force gifts them with the privilege to speak.” – Jamila Lyiscott   “If You Think You’re Giving … Continue reading

And how must a photographer behave?

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 … Continue reading

Feigned authenticity?

“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.

Sam Cotter’s “Reciprocity – a failure to communicate.”

  “Sam Cotter’s pocket-sized publication “Reciprocity – a failure to communicate” investigates photographic reciprocity failure, a technical term in photography for the instances in which photographic materials stops behaving in a linear way. In these situations the medium has a kind of autonomy and requires more from a scene than is … Continue reading

The Right to be Counted

Ginger Bob, 2007 from Titz, T. (2010). Right to be Counted. Retrieved from http://tobiastitz.de/projects/   The Australian referendum in May 1967, while legally minimalist, is considered a important point in the recognition of Indigenous Australians. The referendum, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Australian public, approved two amendments to the Australian Constitution. These changes gave the Federal … Continue reading

Artificial Hells; Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship

I’ve just started reading Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship properly (having only ever browsed it in snatches and grabs before now). It is “the first historical and theoretical overview of socially engaged participatory art,” written by Claire Bishop, who is Professor in the PhD program in Art … Continue reading

‘Charismatic Agency’ and the power of seduction

Image from Red Light Dark Room; Sex, lives and stereotypes, 2011.   “Despite the current enthusiasm for social practice, it is not without its tensions, especially in sectors where art and activism overlap. As agents of change, social-practice projects can seem wanting: the scale is often small, the works are temporary, … Continue reading

Feedback from Photo-Based Social Practice Panel

Audience/participants reading the 4-page PHOTOGRAPHY AND SOCIAL PRACTICE broadsheet, a PDF of which can be found here. Today we (Pete Brook, Eliza Gregory, Gemma-Rose Turnbull, Mark Strandquist and Wendy Ewald) had the Photo-Based Social Practice panel, a discussion of socially engaged, transdisciplinary, and expanded practices in contemporary photography at Aperture Foundation in New York for Open Engagement. As … Continue reading