Still Searching…

The conditions governing the digital world have led to a radical diversification not only in photography but also in the theory that underpins it and the history that is written about it. Photographic media and forms are incorporated into complex tech technological, capitalist and ideological networks; the experts who are conducting scholarly research into the role of photographic images thus come from very different disciplines. The expansion of the discourse surrounding these images is also reflected in Still Searching…, the blog on photographic theory that was initiated by Fotomuseum Winterthur in 2012 and which subjects all aspects of photography and its role in visual culture to interdisciplinary scrutiny. The bloggers invited to the online format operate at the forefront of research and enhance our awareness of current issues that are relevant to photography.

Blog series: Snaps from a Queer Angle

Susanne Huber | 05.08. – 30.09.2020
Snaps from a Queer Angle

Queer perspectives – artistic, academic, activist or otherwise – are gaining increased attention within institutions and public forums engaged in art and (visual) culture. Emerging from a subcultural environment, i.e. often through minority groups and in opposition to prevailing positions in both theory and practice, this momentum is a precarious, at times even contradictory event. Queer discourse poses a substantial challenge to normative structures of the supposedly common, not offering final solutions or relief while being vulnerable to appropriation, commodification, and domestication. This attitude of taking a specific point of view finds an equivalent in the visual form of photography. Through constant artistic or curatorial framing and reframing, however, the medium offers a particular affinity to queer endeavors. Directing the gaze to queer subjects or rendering queer ways of seeing and perceiving thus takes advantage of the inherent qualities of photography as a projective apparatus. This blog series sets out to explore the manifold angles and separate layers by and on which queer leverage might break with the confines of normative frames and perspectives.

Nurture the Seed

Wednesday, 05.08.2020
<p>In 1973, the US-American artist Duane Michals completed an inconspicuous series of photographs, its title stating the simple assertion that <em>Things Are Queer</em>. The beholder is confronted with nine small black and white photographs, arranged in a grid-like pattern. What ‘things’ are being addressed here remains obscure, however, as well as how their supposed queerness might be enacted.</p>

Act and Position

Friday, 21.08.2020
<p><span>Following up on the previous discussion of how <em>Things Are Queer</em> as part of the first entry of this blog series, Duane Michals’ artwork can be interpreted as an appeal to the beholders to resist falling into the trap of essentializing reason. Rather than identifying any certain object <em>as</em> queer, the viewers were invited to explore perception beyond recognition, thus dissolving the narrow framework of expectation. Michals’ critical dismantling of the reception process indeed prevents us from ascribing the attribute ‘queer’ to the responsibility of<em> the Other</em>. </span></p>

Framing Queer, Queering Frames

Wednesday, 09.09.2020
<p>“There is no non-violent way to look at somebody” proclaimed the title of Wu Tsang’s solo exhibition, which ran at Berlin’s Gropius Bau earlier this year. If this act of looking is captured, as photography is notoriously capable of doing, we are confronted with a multitude of problems. Potential pitfalls loom in the functional design of the medium: An imbalance of power between subject and object of the gaze, the affirmative reinforcement of prevailing views as much as the potential exposure of vulnerable targets to violent looks and oppressive regimes. <a><br /></a></p>

Many Pictures Make an Image

Monday, 21.09.2020
<p>A snapshot, if Merriam Webster may be allowed to provide a provisional reference, can be described as “1: a casual photograph made typically by an amateur with a small handheld camera,” and/or “2: an impression or view of something brief or transitory.” As it turns out, this blog series takes a quite literal approach to its title.</p>