ISSP 2019 Publication – Photography and the World

K: Well, I like what you said that a lot of people use the camera as a way of “being-in-the-world” but in my mind, the theme is a reminder to look beyond yourself… like, there’s a whole world out there, don’t lose perspective. “Photography” has quickly become its own topic, its own field of study, its own art form, its own hobby or passion. And it’s so easy to get lost in that I think that we have to keep reminding ourselves that it’s just one thing and even a silly little thing.

N: Hm, I agree that “photography and the world” helps us to get grounded, to be aware that the camera is only a tool to achieve something. This very basic thought is often forgotten and things become as if photography itself was the world.
H: Yes! I often catch myself reading out-raged rants online about everything from tattoos and tv-shows to photography and Foucault… And then I think, “what IS this? How can we all lose perspective so often?

– from a chat session between editors Katherine, Nico B, and Helen


After 12 years of existence, the International Summer School of Photography is shifting towards a thematic focus and greater interdisciplinary engagement. The first thematic edition, ISSP 2019, “PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE WORLD”, looked at photography as a possible tool for positive change, with reference to global issues the world is facing today. From climate change to the crisis of liberal democracy, the huge shifts we are currently undergoing combine to create a sense of urgency and desire for action. What is the role of photography in this? The focus of the programme was be on reflection and discussion, imagining, creating and trying out possibilities. The six workshops explore the position of photography in relation to political activism, ecology/environment, community engagement, and the ritual. The event was designed as a horizontal learning experience involving not only photographers and visual artists, but also activists and experts from other fields, who contributed to the discussion with their diverse perspectives.

Together, the participants looked beyond the sometimes insular bubble of the photography and art world, and tried to answer questions like – What role can art/ photography play in relation to the events and processes happening in the world? What are the ways art can contribute to the societies we live in? What is the role of the photographer – as a professional, an activist, a member of the community, a responsible human being?

Created and launched during the ISSP 2019 in Zaļenieki, Latvia, the publication draws together the content of the first thematic edition of the International Summer School of Photography, “Photography and the World”, including the plentiful questions raised by the ISSP participants, tutors and guests, as well as some passionate attempts to look for the answers.

Editorial team: Katherine Oktober Matthews, Helen Korpak, Nico Baumgarten, Nicolas Polli, Demelza Watts

Produced in partnership with Antalis, printed by NRJ Printing in Riga, Latvia, July 2019, edition of 300 copies

​Free open source PDF downloadable here: ISSP2019_publication_freedownload

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