Photography is Magic: An Inside Look at the 2016 Aperture Summer Open

Participating artists discuss the illusory nature of photography, and the impact it’s had on their work.

Aperture’s 2016 Summer Open was a call for contributions to the idea of photography as a magical form. This optimistic premise attracted a diverse scope of magical contemporary approaches—from pictures found in the happenstance of everyday life to elaborate stagings of studio or desktop experiments.

“What I really love about this exhibition is the conversation that happens between individual practitioners’ work,” said curator Charlotte Cotton. “It feels like there are a lot of people thinking along very similar lines, experimenting in similar ways, and it’s just a really beautiful reflection of how vibrant photography is at the moment.”

The works chosen by Cotton for the exhibition include a wide range of approaches to the theme, among them snow+concrete XIV, 2013, a series of black-and-white prints infused on glass by German photographer G. Ronald Biermann, and Your White Light, 2015, archival pigment prints on vinyl by Milwaukee-based artist Sonja Thomsen.

During the exhibition’s opening week, Aperture caught up with several of the participating artists, many of whom expressed a fascination with the illusory nature of photography, and the impact it’s had on their practice. “Our perception of the world can really only go as far as photography can,” said New York City–based artist Megan Paetzhold. “So, as long as we keep pushing, I think that our perception will keep broadening.”

See the 2016 Aperture Summer Open on view at Aperture Foundation through August 11, 2016.