Alternative Visions: The Photograph, Self-Representation, and Fact in Contemporary Art of the United States
Chair(s): Natalie Zelt, The University of Texas at Austin, firstname.lastname@example.org
As the editors of “Aperture” recently reminded their readers, “The need for artists to offer persuasive, alternative visions is more urgent than ever.”
In response to that need for creative dissent, this panel investigates the ways contemporary artists use the photograph and self-representation together to craft alternative visions and selves. The photograph’s tangled relationship to truth and identity make it a potent conceptual and compositional tool for artists to challenge the limits of both art historical and social categories. Designed to delineate and define, the photograph continues to circumscribe the visual limits of identity categories, including nationality, race, class, gender, and sexuality, well after art historians and cultural critics such as Allan Sekula, Martha Rosler, Sally Stein, and John Tagg called its documentary “truthiness” into question. Additionally, a swell of “post-photography” discourses, ranging from Geoffrey Batchen to Robert Shore, confound the boundaries of the medium, while curators and museums struggle to adapt.
“Alternative Visions” examines the many ways contemporary artists in the United States disrupt the photograph’s master narratives and traditional roles to create subversive, subjective, and contradictory representations of themselves that resist prevailing visual modes.
Presentations will consider an array of questions including: What is the relationship between the photograph and the self in a “post-identity,” “postfact,” and “post-photography” environment? What methods of dissent are evidenced in self-centered photographic practice and what might be their limits? In a contemporary cultural landscape untethered from conventional arbiters of fact, what spaces of resistance can artworks that deploy the photograph create?
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