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POSTPONED: Art + Activism

[Planned for May 2020 postponed for reasons – stay tuned for further updates.] 

Have you ever changed anything in your life because of a photo? Has a photograph ever changed anything in the world?

Let’s discuss if, why and how photos play a role in how we see the world, how photos move people fundamentally and whether this  – of all things – is art.

(Photo: Laia Abril, DIY Abortion Methods)

There is no doubt that photos have an influence. Ubiquitous as they are, they make us read an article in the newspaper, order a meal in a restaurant, press a little heart or swipe left or right. But apart from the increasing automatism of the reactions to them and the latent feeling of oversaturation, do they have a long-term influence on attitudes or even actions? Do they succeed in making us question ourselves and our beloved learned certainties?

Read on here:

Wikipedia on women’s rights:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_rights

Test format inspired by Katherine Oktober Matthews:
https://vimeo.com/223464039

Let’s do a test. Read the following words and tell me (ok, think to yourself), if and what pictures they evoke:

– #blacklifesmatter
– I can’t breathe
– a man kneeling on another man’s neck

Perhaps you have now had three different images in front of your eyes. Or maybe it was the same one three times. Let’s try again:

– freedom
– freedom of choice
– women’s rights

Now probably different readers had very different images in their minds, depending for example on your gender or your nationality. Even though these terms seem to address supposedly universal concepts.

The connection of art and activism has a long history and many current apperances. You might as well ask: what art is not political? For activism specifically two constituent criteria can be named: the conscious will to have a social and political impact and the thrust, which always implies an intention to change, to renew or to at least raise awareness for grievances.

Photography has been strongly connected to the present, the moment, the (eye-) witnessing of time. This goes along with the notion of a special connection of photography to reality. That these two characteristics are disproved is common sense at this moment. Nontheless for a long time this air of truhfulness and neutrality shaped the consensus on suitable photographic narrative forms. And on the ethics of documentary, propaganda, aigtation and activism.

More recently these boundaries have increasingly been softened by authors and audiences – in quantity and quality. The use of found photography, techniques of recontextualisation and docufictional storytelling enrich the range in which photography is used and read today. A major factor that has contributed to this are the greatly increasing possibilities to access images and to publish and make them available without the structures and machines that were necessary in the past.

More info

With FOTOTREFF #33 on art and activism, we would like to contribute to the understanding of these forms with some active actors in the field and at the same time get an idea of their individual motivations, expectations and creative considerations.

Photographer Laia Abril and critic Jörg Colberg will talk about some of today‘s most pressing topics – abuse of power, misogyny, and rape – and how they can be tackled in an artistic context, discussing motivations, ways of expression, and the reception of such work.

The work of artist Nadja Bournonville centers around the connection of history, society and personal biography. Her works express the flickering, unstable construction of perception, reality, memory, personality and stories by combining a wide variety of techniques and media, manipulating objects and staged or found images and arranging and linking these serial groups into stories in books or exhibitions.

For this edition of FOTOTREFF we plan to invite our guest of the BOOK SLOT, Nadja Bournonville, right into the TALK of Laia Abril and Jörg Colberg. We are absolutely curious about the discussion between our three guests.

Stay tuned

Updates on the next activities of FOTOTREFF Berlin are soon to come:
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The team of FOTOTREFF Berlin has prepared this event for a long time and with enthusiasm in terms of content and organisation. We are thrilled that with C/O Berlin we were able to win a partner for this event that shares our enthusiasm and curiosity. With its expertise and infrastructure C/O Berlin is a wonderful partner for this event – thank you.

We hope that the conditions will soon be such again that events with proximity, exchange and lively participation of our visitors will be possible. Follow us on our social media channels or subscribe to our newsletter for more updates. More events and interesting digital formats are also in the pipeline.

Take care, we look forward to seeing you all soon.

The FOTOTREFF Berlin team of 2021:

Ann-Kristin, Charlotte, Inka, Julia, Katrin, Meller, Robert, Sara-Lena and Verena