The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is – it’s to imagine what is possible.
bell hooks Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations.
This year, students were finally on campus again and could engage with their practice in a studio setting with their peers, where making and debating can take place daily. Although distance learning and zoom meetings were necessary in their first year of study, gathering and sharing with each other in person allows for braver and broader material experimentation. The studio is an empty space in which to practice art making, slowly it gets filled with ideas and art works, with conversations and shared experiences.
It is now taken for granted that the screen can operate in a similar way, a place to come to experience new art works and ideas. However, the screen is anything but an empty space, it is a window into a world of information and data where images are produced, reproduced, consumed, bought, sold, shared, reshared, liked or disliked. Photography is the central tool for these exchanges.
The artists gathered here all swim effortlessly in a sea of images and information without pretending to be their source. From collages and photo-etchings to the swiftness of the snapshot or monumentality of the pose, their practices remind us that photographic images are porous and fluid. And their work is as surprising as it is challenging. They expand and call into question the complex history of photography as a practice of representation.
The camera is a device to receive appearances as much as it is a tool to create different worlds. Dali once famously called photography a pure creation of the mind, more akin to a hallucination than a record of reality. Perhaps it is again timely to put reality on trial. To use a variety of poetic strategies to question how the flow of information moves in today’s world of images and to unfix meaning and identities.
Photography Programme Team.
Image Credit. Title: Resurrection (detail) 2022 Zhiyun Lei