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Aperture In Person

Collaboration: Revisiting the History of Photography

Saturday, December 7

1:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Aperture Gallery and Bookstore 547 West 27th Street New York, NY


Join Ariella Azoulay, Wendy Ewald, Susan Meiselas, and graduate students from Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design for an Open Lab at Aperture Gallery, as they develop the first draft of a research project that reconsiders the story of photography from the perspective of collaboration. The team will map out a timeline of approximately one hundred photography projects—in which photographers “co-labor” with each other and with those they photograph—on the walls of the Aperture Bookstore.

This one-day event is a unique opportunity to engage with the project. All gallery visitors are invited to see the Open Lab in progress, and encouraged to contribute to the informal discussion about photography and collaboration.

This project is in collaboration with Nathan Lee, Drew Ludwig, Nupur Mathur, Rijuta Mehta, Francisco Monar, Tyler Theus, and Sarah Yahm, graduate students in the Modern Culture and Media Department, Brown University, and at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Saturday Schedule:

1:00–2:30 p.m.: Visit the Open Lab. Brief presentations by Ariella Azoulay, Wendy Ewald, and Susan Meiselas
2:30–3:15 p.m.: Eight discussion groups for each cluster, with the participation of one research assistant
3:15–4:30 p.m.: Groups present their thoughts on each grouping
4:30–6:00 p.m.: Open discussion followed by reception (Please note: doors will be closed for entry at 6:00 p.m.)

As Ariella Azoulay and her colleagues describe the project:

“On December 7, 2013, we will present at the Aperture Gallery in New York a first draft of a timeline of collaborative photographic projects based on research conducted with graduate students from Brown University and RISD.

“The timeline includes close to one hundred projects assembled in eight different clusters. Each of these projects address a different aspect of collaboration: the intimate ‘face-to-face’ encounter between photographer and photographed person; collaborations recognized over time; collaboration as the production of alternative and common histories; as a means of creating new potentialities in given political regimes of violence; as a framework for collecting, preserving, and studying existing images as a basis for establishing civil archives for unrecognized, endangered, or oppressed communities; as a vantage point to reflect on relations of co-laboring that are hidden, denied, compelled, imagined, or fake.

“These clusters are taped to the walls as a large modular desktop, susceptible to multiple readings and changes. The different projects are ‘quoted’ through small reference prints in a laboratory mode, and juxtaposed on the wall with verbal quotations from the participants in the event of photography, as well as other archival documentation. This display format is a first draft that will be extended and modified following the discussions with the audience in the space.

“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.”


Image: Wendy Ewald, Harshad, Hasmukh, Chandrakant, and Dasrath learning to hold the camera

Collaboration: Revisiting the History of Photography