Collective Thinking, For Freedoms
February 22 - March 09, 2017
  • Emeka Okereke, Waiting, Rosso (Mauritania–Senegal border), 2014
    Courtesy Invisible Borders
  • Ming Smith, Do Not Cross the Lines
    Courtesy Kamoinge
  • Matthieu Paley, Phosphate flies in the air as the boat is loaded with it, Republic of Nauru, Micronesia
    Courtesy Everyday Climate Change
  • Piece of Cake Group Portrait, Cleveland, Ohio, 2016
    Courtesy Piece of Cake
  • Courtesy WRRQ

Aperture Gallery hours:

Monday–Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Closed Sunday
The collectives included in the exhibition are EverydayClimateChange, Invisible Borders, Kamoinge, Piece of Cake, Rawi(ya), and WRRQ. Further details on each collective are included below.

EverydayClimateChange (ECC) photographers live on six continents and share photographs made on seven continents to present visual evidence that climate change doesn't just happen “over there,” but that climate change is also happening right here. ECC is not a western view on climate change but presents the work of committed, enlightened photographers from across the globe who share backstories, contextualizing not only the effects of climate change but also potential solutions to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases on our world. The photographs peel back the visual layers and look more closely at the visual evidence. The goal of the ECC Instagram feed is to show that no one anywhere is immune to effects of climate change. The goal is to reach beyond the cloistered photography world and the stuffy halls of academia to those who will be most affected by climate change: in other words, YOU.

Invisible Borders
“Invisible Borders Trans-African Photographers Organization” is an artist-led initiative founded by Emeka Okereke and registered as a not-for-profit organization in Nigeria. The collective works with artists and individuals in contributing to the patching of numerous gaps and misconceptions posed by frontiers within the fifty-four countries of Africa through art and photography. Beyond that, the organization hopes to expand its activities beyond issues that relate to geographic borders and other forms of discriminating parameters in photography and arts. It is a platform that also stands as a symbol of the exchange of ideas between cultures and people. Their many collective projects aim to sustain a circulatory system of exchange across many facets of social divides within the African reality, taking the African continent as a point of departure.

Kamoinge, Inc. was founded as a collective of African American photographers seeking artistic equality and empowerment. It works as a forum in which members view, nurture, critique, and challenge each other’s work in an honest and understanding atmosphere. Based in New York City, Kamoinge has met continuously since 1963 under the leadership of creative and active directors including Roy DeCarava, Louis Draper, Beuford Smith, Anthony Barboza, and Adger W. Cowans. Individually, the members lecture, teach in universities, and work in fine-art photography, photojournalism, documentary photography, commercial photography, motion pictures, and video.

Piece of Cake
Piece of Cake collective was created in Rouen in 2002 at the initiative of French photographer Charles Fréger. The original group was comprised of artists from several different European countries including France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Portugal, and England, among others. In 2009, Cara Phillips initiated the creation of a North American Piece of Cake. Currently the group has members from fourteen countries. Since its inception, Piece of Cake has undergone many changes; however, it maintains its core purpose—to facilitate artist interaction (in person and electronically.) Both groups meet in person one to two times per year at workshops and maintain communication via group e-mail and WhatsApp. These interactions serve to provide a place to share and critique work, and to discuss art practice, technical challenges, arts education, and book-making, and other issues that are relevant to artistic production. Piece of Cake does not make work together nor does it have an artistic manifesto. The collective is comprised of artists with varied approaches to art-making, at different stages of their careers, who bring different cultural experiences.

Rawi(ya), which translates to “she/he who tells the story,” is the first photographic collective to emerge from the Middle East, and features a groundbreaking group of photographers: Myriam Abdelaziz, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Ghaith Abdul-Adad, Zein Ben Romdhane, Laura Boushnak, and Tanya Habjouqa. When the group was formed in 2009, the initial idea was to provide a supportive platform for female photographers in the Middle East; in 2016, the collective accepted the first male contributors. Their work pushes both East and West to think about their own stereotypes. Rawi(ya) is, to an extent, about redressing the way in which the world looks at the Middle East. Rawi(ya) presents challenges to perceptions of gender roles, politics, religion, displacement, and culture—both within the region and to international audiences. The photographers work across a broad range of platforms, ranging from journalism, education, and fine art to utilizing long-form documentary projects.

WRRQ is an intergenerational community of artists and activists united in queerness who wrrq to transform our culture. Our core actions include community-building, activism, art, video, fashion, and food justice. Many of us connected at the homeless youth shelter guided by the spirit of Sylvia Rivera where many of us have spent time, or by collaborating on large-scale art projects in queer and trans spaces. Not every collective member is involved in every project and our individual work continues freely, yet a shared sense of queer family runs throughout all the wrrq we collaborate on. Every summer we retreat to the mountains for Arts in the Woods, an intergenerational residency where we co-create with queer artists surviving homeless shelter systems. Our parent organization, Allied Productions, connects us to rich queer activist history in the Lower East Side, where they operate a community garden refuge (Le Petit Versailles) to gather, perform, and share wrrq. Together, we dream of shifting American culture away from violence, misogyny, and transphobia towards interdependence, restorative justice, accountability, and self-determination.

Aperture has invited the artist-run super PAC, For Freedoms, to curate and implement an improvisational exhibition and series of dialogues that investigates the photographic collective as a model for responsive artistic production.

This two-week project will feature live events that bring together several active photography communities to discuss the practices, benefits, and methodologies of collectivity, while focusing on the question of what defines “the political” in art-making today. The photographic collective is a form intended to amplify the individual voice and to provide a forum for artistic feedback and critique. Is the act of creating dialogue in and of itself political? Can diverse creative communities be inclusive while remaining coherent? What is there to learn from each other? How can an art space become, like a collective, a vehicle for dialogue? Each collective is invited to contribute a visual prompt for discussion and selected works to be presented in the space; the main propulsion for this activity, however, will be a series of in-person activities including meet-ups, salon-style conversations, and other events.

The collectives included in the exhibition are EverydayClimateChange, Invisible Borders, Kamoinge, Piece of Cake, Rawi(ya), and WRRQ.

Throughout the duration of the exhibition, Aperture and For Freedoms, along with the participating collectives, will host a series of activities to unite artists, photographers, activists, and the broader community.

February 25, 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. | Collective Workday: Poster and Sign Making

March 1, 6:00–10:00 p.m. | The Visual Resistance Forum

March 3, 6:00–9:00 p.m. | Photobooks and Beer

March 4, 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. | Collective Thinking: Sharing Work and Ideas

March 8, 6:30–8:00 p.m. | Collective Thinking: Roundtable Discussion

As a follow-up to this exhibition, For Freedoms and Aperture ask you, as global citizens, to participate in 2017 Aperture Summer Open: On Freedom. Our annual open-submission exhibition seeks to reveal and report on critical themes and trends driving international contemporary photographic practice. This year, we ask you to answer the call for images that “address or express one of these four vital freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.” Submit your work, let your voice be heard.