Still Searching…

Von 2012 bis 2023 beschäftigte sich der Diskurs-Blog des Fotomuseum Winterthur interdisziplinär mit allen Aspekten der Fotografie und ihrer Rolle in der visuellen Kultur. Die insgesamt fast 50 eingeladenen Blogger_innen von Still Searching…  diskutierten fotografische Medien und Formen als Bestandteil komplexer technologischer, kapitalistischer und ideologischer Netzwerke und verhandelten aktuellste und relevante Fragestellungen rund um die Fotografie.

Blog series: Centrist Liberalism Triumphant: Postwar Humanist Reframing of Documentary

Jorge Ribalta | 01.06. – 15.07.2014
Centrist Liberalism Triumphant: Postwar Humanist Reframing of Documentary

Jorge Ribalta’s blog series draws inspiration from the title of the fourth volume of Immanuel Wallerstein’s landmark series on the modern world-system. Rather than a theoretical or philosophical discussion on the nature of documentary photography, the blog series proposes a historical understanding of documentary practices in photography, and specifically during the Cold War. Ribalta’s point is that the rise of documentary rhetoric and discourses in the prewar era reflected the need to provide a visual tool for the representation of the working class and its new agency in mass democracy. But histories of photographic modernism, mostly a postwar construction largely determined by Newhall’s contribution, offered specific “liberal” versions of the emergence of the documentary discourse that had long-lasting effects. For example, the hegemony of the FSA documentary overshadowed the rest of the 1930s documentary experiences, particularly that of the Worker Photography Movement. In the 1950s, the large shadow of the monumental The Family of Man invisibilized or re-signified other documentary experiments, like Italian Neorealism or Paul Strand’s photo book projects, just to mention two examples. In both cases, prewar and postwar, centrist liberalism is triumphant. In other words, liberal humanism seemed to be an unsurpassable discursive and ideological horizon in postwar photographic avant-gardes and its historical narratives. The blog series brings to discussion some ideas and intuitions dealing with the humanist condition of postwar documentary photography and its problems.

Paul Strand after Margaret Mead

Dienstag, 10.06.2014
<div>In this second post I’d like to expand the scenario somewhat by introducing a few other possible significant references for an interpretation of the logics of the 1950s.<br><br></div><div><br><br></div>

Heart of Darkness

Sonntag, 29.06.2014
<div>The 1960s are dark and phantasmagoric, like an ambiguous <em>terrain vague</em> or “nowhere land” in the periodization of photographic history. I’m not free from that uncertainty about the interpretation of this complex decade. It seems like a moment when the past was not quite over and the future had yet to start. </div>

After Liberalism

Dienstag, 08.07.2014
<p>One of the most idiosyncratic yet unrecognized trends of the 1970s is how it was precisely then, when the prewar documentary culture from the 1920s-30s began to appear in a new light. Besides the Walker Evans retrospective at MOMA in 1971, which I mentioned in the previous post, the decade started with a series of seminal monographs on the FSA and the 1930s documentary, including Jack Hurley’s <i>Portrait of a Decade</i> (1972), Roy Stryker and Nancy Wood’s <i>In this Proud Land</i> (1973), and William Stott’s <i>Documentary Expression and Thirties America</i> (1973).</p>
Blog series: Abigail Solomon-Godeau

Abigail Solomon-Godeau | 16.04. – 31.05.2014
Abigail Solomon-Godeau

Starting on April 15, 2014, the American art critic and professor emerita Abigail Solomon-Godea, will reflect on a selection of the exhibitions (i.e., the particular) viewed in the past couple of weeks and try to distill, or extract, something that might count as some valid generalities about photographic practice and photographic discourse in their current manifestations.

Two Radically Disjunct Approaches

Dienstag, 15.04.2014
<div>This is the first of five blogs I will be writing for the Fotomuseum Winterthur and, as it happens, the first I have ever written. But because almost everything I write is done on commission, the daunting freedom provided by this kind of blog (“write anything on photography”) is more intimidating than exhilarating. Given such freewheeling editorial liberty, I had to decide whether to orient this first blog to the “general,” or to the “particular.” <br><br></div>
Blog series: Modernist Revisitations

Claire Bishop | 15.09. – 31.10.2013
Modernist Revisitations

Claire Bishop is blogging about ‚modernist revisitations‘ – or, in her own words: „Sometimes it feels as if every art magazine I open, and every exhibition I visit, features at least one artist whose work earnestly addresses ‘failed utopias’, who is fascinated by ‘Modernist movements and collectives’, who is committed to ‘the re-enactment of historic high Modernist principles’, or who is drawn to ‘forgotten Modernist constructions that have crumbled over time’. Why this incessant retrospectivity? Are these revisitations in any way political, a response to the limitations of postmodern eclecticism? Or should they be viewed more critically, as an avoidance of contemporary politics by escaping into nostalgia celebration of the past? My blog hopes to raise some questions about the ubiquitous genre of modernist utopias in contemporary art.“

How Did We Get so Nostalgic for Modernism?

Samstag, 14.09.2013
<div>I’m going to use this blog as a way to test out some ideas relating to a series of essays I’m putting together on the retrospectivity of contemporary art. What do I mean by retrospectivity? The tendency, found almost globally, for art to quote and repurpose pre-existing cultural artefacts. Pre-eminent among this tendency is the trend for repurposing Modernist art, architecture and design. </div>