Fotomuseum Winterthur | Saturday, 13.09. – Sunday, 23.11.2014

Manifesto! An Alternative History of Photography

Manifesto! is the first exhibition to explore the historical relationship between photography and the manifesto. It reveals what happens when photographers reach for their pens to agitate on behalf of their medium. In an innovative installation, the exhibition brings together 56 manifestos written by photographers, covering the whole history of photography, from the 1840s to the present day. Modernist manifestos form the core of the exhibition, tied intimately to the interruptive strategies of the avant-garde and the design and typographic innovations that were so central to its revolutionizing of artistic production.

However, the photographic manifesto also has an intriguing nineteenth-century pre-history as photographers fought over the significance of photography to the visual arts, or offered truculent advice to those who ignored the specificities of production. In the wake of the Second World War, the photographic manifesto took a more subjective turn before recovering its political voice after 1968, declaring a new direction for photography against a backdrop of widespread social upheaval. The exhibition pays particular attention to visual form, reminding us that the manifesto is never purely a textual commentary, but rather a design object in its own right. It concludes with a selection of powerful contemporary statements, suggesting the photographic manifesto still has a role to play in fermenting political and aesthetic change. Bringing together past and present, Manifesto! reveals the many ways photography has sought to renew itself by laying claim to a different future.

The exhibition is a cooperation project between Museum Folkwang, Essen, and Fotomuseum Winterthur. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue (German-language edition only) published by Steidl Verlag.

Kindly supported by the Verein Fotomuseum Winterthur.