September 20, 2010

UNFIXED: Photography and postcolonial perspectives in contemporary art

UNFIXED Projects

Photography’s attraction as a medium, its historical connection to the production and fixation of (cultural) identity, and the urgency of debates over identity, globalization, and culture, inspire UNFIXED. Via its various platforms, UNFIXED seeks to dissolve ideas of photographic truth and cultural identity as essential and unchanging by exploring artistic practices that are innovative, self-reflexive and critical. Photographs are not simply viewed as representations, but are understood to embody and communicate histories of power within complex visual discourses. The photograph is not only an act of remembrance recorded, but also a productive act of invention. This creates new positions and challenging questions that ask – Who is looking? Whose history is represented? What is the photographic image staging?

UNFIXED is a multiplatform project that includes an exhibition, symposium, workshop, and a resulting publication. Bringing together an international group of artists and scholars with personal relations to migration, colonial history and cultural diaspora, UNFIXED explores the elusive ‘truth’ of photography and its relationship to ideas of ethnicity, culture and identity in contemporary art. Through their own practices and research, the participating artists and theorists will reflect on photography’s representational abilities within a postcolonial context.

EXHIBITION October 23 – December 4

Charif Benhelima (BE), Otobong Nkanga (FR/NG), Keith Piper (UK), Naro Snackey (NL), Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (US) and Hank Willis Thomas (US). Six international artists re-construct, re-contextualize and reflect on photography’s fixed representations of history and identity through their installations, found and vernacular images, sculpture, text and video.

SYMPOSIUM November 16

The symposium will explore photography’s significance within changing notions of cultural history, identity and representation. The day will include a keynote from art historian Kobena Mercer, along with presentations from all of the participating artists, Patty Pattynama (University of Amsterdam), and the curators. Presentations will touch on such topics as: colonial photography, visual sovereignty, hybrid identity, photographic research and process, image and text relationships and representation within media and popular culture. The UNFIXED symposium aims to blur the lines between art practice, scholarly research and cultural activism, contributing to the Netherlands’ relatively young debate about the relationship between postcolonialism and photography.

WORKSHOP November 15

UNFIXED Projects invites graduate and end exam students (MA, MFA and 4th year BA or BFA students) in arts theory and practice to take part in a workshop with all of the participating artists, keynote Kobena Mercer and the curators. The workshop will focus on photography in relation to subjects such as culture, identity, migration, diaspora and colonialism. We encourage students whose work and research relate to these subjects and neighboring themes to apply.

Please see our website for more information on how to register and apply for the symposium and/or workshop.

The exhibition, workshop and symposium will be held at
Center for Contemporary Art (CBK) Dordrecht
Voorstraat 180, 3311 ES
Dordrecht, The Netherlands

UNFIXED is made possible with support from the city of Dordrecht, the Netherlands Fund for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture and the Mondriaan Foundation.

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