Status – 24 Contemporary Documents

A few years after the digital turn, the shift from analog to digital image production and archiving, Fotomuseum Winterthur explores the current state of the document and the documentary image in the exhibition Status – 24 Contemporary Documents. Whereas the term “status” used to have a thoroughly positive connotation, indicating a confident display of one’s own condition or state, today we ask about the “status” of things almost with a sense of apprehension, knowing full well that situations are often uncertain, precarious, and usually in flux. This uncertainty carries over into the field of photography. The rapid dissemination and availability of images and videos in print media, on the Internet, on social platforms such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Flickr have led to new forms of communication through documentary images. Often we do not know who took the picture, nor do we know how the picture has made its way to us. How are these photographic documents to be understood? How do the schemata of seeing, understanding, deleting, and saving function in our contemporary multi-media environment?

The 24 exemplary “documents” selected for this exhibition come together in a complex network of loose associations and immediate relationships, which attempts to capture the current status of the documentary image. The apparent jumps between various themes and media formats, between official press images (Vladimir Putin fishing) and anthropological studies of the family image (the Vox Populi work by Fiona Tan) correspond to our current viewing experience as alternating between high and low, surface and depth. The conquest of unknown territory and the quiet contemplation of a personal theme form two poles of the exhibition. Whereas Trevor Paglen uses meticulous, scientific precision to offer proof of hidden US satellites operating in the night sky, Sammy Baloji, Jérôme Leuba, and Lara Almarcegui rescue removed sites or unusual biographies from oblivion. In 2009 Almarcegui was able to photograph the overgrown lots in East London that have now been built up and will be the sites of the Summer Olympics 2012.

The exhibition Status – 24 Contemporary Documents pursues the traces photography leaves be-hind, travelling at both analog and digital speeds. Through her video camera, Moyra Davey delves into a volume of photographs that is important to her, Portraits in Life and Death by Peter Hujar, and thereby creates a parable of decelerated reading and looking. Willem Popelier examines the shifting identities and presentations of the self through his work Showroom Girls, which offers an exemplary reflection on a younger generation’s behavior in social networks. Conceived and realized by Jules Spinatsch, the 24-hour panorama of the trading floor of the German stock exchange in Frankfurt—a site highly familiar from media images—enables us to witness the simultaneous recording, receiving, and saving of information in the form of a 14-meter wall installation, whose individual components will come together at Fotomuseum Winterthur over the course of the opening day of the exhibition on June 8, 2012 and depict a complete calendar day.

Participating artists:
Lara Almarcegui (ES), Dimitry Astakhov (RU), Sammy Baloji (CD), Walead Beshty (GB), Ursula Biemann (CH), Fernando Brito (MEX), Moyra Davey (US), Lukas Einsele (DE), Cedric Eisenring/Thomas Julier (CH), Michael Elmgreen/Ingar Dragset (DK/NO), Alfredo Jarr (CI), Jérôme Leuba (CH), Market Photo Workshop (SA), Erica Overmeer (NL), Trevor Paglen (US), Willem Popelier (NL), Gosha Rubchinskiy (RU), Jules Spinatsch (CH), Hiroshi Sugimoto (JP), Fiona Tan (NL), Jonas Unger (DE), Unknown Taliban (AF), Lidwien van de Ven (NL), wearethe99percent (US)

Status – 24 Contemporary Documents
> where: Fotomuseum Winterthur, Gruezenstrasse 44 + 45, Winterthur 8400, Switzerland, Map It
> from: 09-06-2012 to: 26-08-2012
> opening hours: TUE – SUN: 11 – 18 hrs, WED: 11 – 20 hrs, MON: closed

[ Submitted by Daniela Schwendimann ]

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