Aperture Magazine

The magazine of photography and ideas

Collaboration: Revisiting the History of Photography Recap

Leading photographers and students reconsider the history of photography from the perspective of collaboration.

 - December 23, 2013


“In this project we seek to reconstruct the material, practical, and political conditions of collaboration through photography and of photography through collaboration. We seek ways to foreground—and create—the tension between the collaborative process and the photographic product by reconstructing the participation of others, usually the more ‘silent’ participants. We try to do this through the presentation of a large repertoire of types of collaborations, those which take place at the moment when a photograph is taken, or others that are understood as collaboration only later, when a photograph is reproduced and disseminated, juxtaposed to another, read by others, investigated, explored, preserved, and accumulated in an archive to create a new database.”

— Azoulay, Ewald, and Meiselas’s description of the “Collaboration” project.

On December 7, Ariella Azoulay, Wendy Ewald, Susan Meiselas, and graduate students from the Modern Culture and Media Department at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design met for an Open Lab at Aperture Gallery. The team, which included graduate students Nathan Lee, Drew Ludwig, Nupur Mathur, Rijuta Mehta, Francisco Monar, Tyler Theus, and Sarah Yahm, organized the event with the aim of further developing the first draft of a research project that reconsiders the history of photography from the perspective of collaboration. Aperture visitors were encouraged to contribute to the informal discussion.

Prior to the event, the team had mapped out a timeline of approximately one hundred photography projects—in which photographers “co-labored” with each other and with those they photographed—on the walls of the Aperture Bookstore. Open to public participation, this one-day event was a unique opportunity to engage with the project and provide input as to which photography projects were felt to be most significant, or to point out any that had been forgotten or overlooked.

This enlightening dialogue was made possible by the environment created by Azoulay, Ewald, Meiselas, and the Brown and RISD students. Aperture would like to thank this collaborative team and the participating public for their energy and inspiration.