Lianzhou foto. Your Selfie stick (and you)
Internacional Photography Festival
Guest curator for the Thematic Exhibition “Your Selfie Stick (and You).”
9 artists selected: #Everyday Africa, #Eyes On China, Carlos Paris (Venezuela), Heba Khalifa (Egypt), Jacob Burge (GB), Mark Page (GB), Nación Rotonda (Spain), Oscar Monzón (Spain), Yuki Naito (Japan)
We live in a digital culture that has completely transformed our visual habits. We witness and participate in the mass use of the “me” – previously reserved to but a few – because this staging is the only way to prevail in this world of visual competitiveness. However, when faced with this overexposure of images, we should ask ourselves where the creator of images is positioned.
Previously, the photographer went out to capture reality in his surroundings; nowadays, many decide to dive into the network and, from therein, build their documentary fictions (Mark Page). This fertile and seemingly inexhaustible mesh, as well as being accessible to all, is another instrument that allows us to make visible certain situations. The difference resides in the degree of manipulation of those elements taken from Internet, in a different order than the established one. Small disruptions, slight signs and gaps, allow us to denounce certain positionings and encourage questions (Carlos París), although those same disruptions are warning signs that the lines have been completely erased, that there is no private and public anymore, no true or false; everything is part of the whole.
In this era of democratization of images, social networks and their power to communicate are playing an essential role. The presence of platforms such as Facebook and Instagram has not only transformed our method of communicating, but has also propelled the possibility of modifying the imaginary that we have as regards a whole continent or a whole country (#EverydayAfrica #EyesOnChina). These are tools available to any and everyone – with no distinctions as regards gender, race, social or cultural standing -, and that allow us to open doors, give voices and, even more importantly, empower (Heba Khalifa).
By means of these artifacts, or in reference to them, contemporary creators manufacture their own, diverse stories, but with a common and shared tone of criticism. The analysis and calling into question of the author himself, of the time and world in which he lives, as well as questioning the photographic medium itself, are the fundamental premises to start any project. Therefore, we are not discovering new stories or situations, but rather looking at them from a different viewpoint as we reconstruct the re-appearance of the same.
The questions that arise do not do so in a propagandistic or rhetorical manner. To the contrary, current photographers – aware of their responsibility not to present a totalizing tale – opt for the use of multiple strategies. A fixed, isolated image is not enough; it needs to be accompanied, it always needs another layer.
The use of text is fundamental. Words do not replace images, they are images, visible shapes that contribute another required element to the ensemble. Design is another strategy that is used as another layer. The linear repetition of the same sign emphasizes the criticism towards the hyper-reality of the era in which we live, contaminating the landscapes in which we exist and which we no longer know how to look at (Oscar Monzón). On other occasions, it helps us to perceive the control imposed on our societies and the obtainment of information without our consent (Jacob Burge). In this digital era, the human hand, with its nuances and originality, facing off against the machine and mathematical formulas, attempts to contribute fragility and evanescence with means such as drawing, painting or collage. The pigments of the wall can also emphasize the vibrations of the duality veracity-fiction. On other occasions, resorting to irony and satire – always from a standpoint of humility – can aid us to see the absolute need to laugh at ourselves (Nación Rotonda). The staging of all these heterogeneous details is accompanied by a fierce desire: that of activating something in the spectator, and that the “click” be freeing.
By means of the photographic act, desacralized and heterogeneous, an ensemble of fragments of intense poetic fragility comes together. The use of images taken from or through screens, and the instant transmission of banal images accompanied by other elements, is a strategy used to outline the vulnerability of the world that surrounds us as well as the need to affirm one’s presence and inscribe oneself in the community. The goal being to transition from “me” to “us” (Yuki Naito).
In this manner, the photographer joins the ranks of those wishing to share. Images are not just for oneself, they are not only in the hands of the photographer. The spectator is another vessel, because the message is circulating, it is propelled to make the system dynamic. And so everyone becomes the subject. It is not about lifting the stick to oneself, but rather about awakening the “and you”, with the desire to move towards the other.
Exhibition from the 2nd December to 31 December 2017