Collaboration - Revisiting the History of Photography

Call for Participation


Aperture Foundation, New York
Saturday December 7, 2013

 Curated by Ariella Azoulay, Wendy Ewald, and Susan Meiselas
In association with graduate students at Modern Culture and Media Department, Brown University

We invite the public to participate in our effort to create a complex and rich timeline of collaboration in photography. On December 7, 2013, we will present at the Aperture gallery/office space in NY a first draft of the timeline based on our research conducted with graduate students from Brown University who will have participated in a seminar on “Collaboration and the Event of Photography,” as well as from the input collected as responses to this call (see the guidelines for submission below). The public is invited to send in advance references to existing collaborative projects from different times and places for eventual inclusion in the timeline. At this point, we are especially interested in projects from the mid 19th to mid 20th century. The projects constituting the timeline will be displayed through archival documentation and small reference prints in a laboratory mode, open for discussions and changes on the opening day. The curators reserve the right not to include all the submitted projects. The timeline shaped during this process will be used in the next phase of the project.

In this project we seek to reconstruct the material, practical and ideological conditions of collaboration through photography and of photography through collaboration. We will seek ways to foreground – and create – the tension between the collaborative process and the photographic product (which does not necessarily bear visible traces of this process), by reconstructing the participation of others, usually the more “silent” participants. We will do this through the presentation of a repertoire of types of collaborations, those which take place at the moment when a photograph is taken, or others that are understood as collaboration only later, when a photograph is reproduced and disseminated, juxtaposed to another, read by others, investigated, explored, preserved, and accumulated in an archive to create a new data base.

Our first assumption is that a certain degree of collaboration is implicit in photography. This may become explicit when the collaboration between photographers and photographed persons is continued by their transformation into spectators, spectators among others. Against the prevalent practice and the entrenched notion of the photographer as a figure who arrives at an unfamiliar place, takes pictures and vanishes with the photographs that s/he will show elsewhere, in collaborative projects, the duration, attention, and exchange are negotiated differently.

The second assumption is that revisiting the history of photography through the notion of collaboration should be done collaboratively with others who are familiar with different times, places, and contexts.

Please send a short description of the collaborative project that you want to suggest for the timeline including photographer’s name, title of the project, production year, location, and 2-3 photos.

Submissions can be sent to [email protected] until October 1st, 2013.

The curators reserve the right not to include all the submitted projects. Research for the selected projects should be completed by mid November. Each project will be displayed in the timeline in a condensed way through up to 500 words and 3-5 photos. The text should foreground the various aspects of the collaboration, indicating (if known): name of the photographed people and other participants, type of camera used, process of viewing and displaying the photographs, a description of the process of collaboration, and 3-5 photos, and any additional material should be sent to [email protected].
Selected projects will have the opportunity to participate in the working session to create the timeline on December 6 for public viewing on December 7.

Topics that we are currently working with include but are not limited to:

●      The Archive belongs to the Community (eg Palestine Remembered, Kurdistan- Susan Meiselas, We are all children of Algeria, Nicholas Mirzoeff)

●      The Exhibition as an Image of Community (eg Negro Exhibit- W.E.B. Du Bois’, American Alphabets- Wendy Ewald)

●      Resistance / Advocacy – Conversations with the Dead-Danny Lyon,

●      Intimacy, Violation, Exposure (eg Alfred Steiglitz and Georgia O’Keefe)

●      Inventing the archive – Akram Zaatari, Walid Raad

●      The Invention of the Photographed Person (eg Pierre-Louis Pierson and Countess di Castiglione, Suffragists)

●      Forced Collaboration (eg Femmes Algeriennes- Marc Garanger, Secret Police, IDF search practices)

●      The Child as Model/Author/ Full Participant (Wendy Ewald, B’tselem)

●      The Icon Claims Subjectivity (eg Sharbat Gula, ‘the Afghan Girl,’ eg Kim Phuc, ‘the napalm girl’)

●      The Resistance of the Photographed Person (eg Dorothea Lange and Florence Owen Thompson, Neji Bensalah)

●      Documenting the Body at Risk (eg Eugene Richards and Dorothea Lynch)

●      Woman As Muse and other fantasies of collaboration (eg Jessie Mann and Len Prince)

●      The Photographed Person becomes His/Her Own Spectator (eg People of San Francisco-Jim Goldberg)

●      Prison, Hospital, and Camera  (Nhem Ein, Chanarin & Broomberg, The Center for Investigative Reporting)