The New Positions in American Photography exhibition at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn displays the upcoming generation of American and Canadian photographers experimenting with progressive technology in their art.
The collection features pieces from artists Sara Vanderbeek, Kate Steciw and Daniel Gordon. The over-arching theme evident between these creative minds is their curious and critical approach to challenge the fundamentals of photographic art in attempt to revolutionize the medium.
Author Mandalena Munkonge with Dazed and Confused says, “Their work challenges and reassesses the role, value and significance of photography in today’s context, bringing into question how the image can be defined in a world where the photograph has such a rich history, alongside strong political and social connotations.
Essentially, their work is paving a way to transform and reconstruct the medium in today’s changing world while maintaining history.
In an interview with Dazed, Deputy Director of Artistic Affairs for Amsterdam’s Foam museum Marcel Feil shares his take on the matter. He discussed how current photography is not much more advanced than the beginning years of the medium.
He said, “People are experimenting with new photographic techniques, methods and processes, that have not fully crystallized yet, and demonstrating a mindset that is pleasingly non-conformist. This open-mindedness guarantees that there will be unexpected approaches and often surprising results.”
Feil also recognizes that these innovative photographers share not only investigative and experimental approaches to the medium, but also that most of the artwork showcased is typically related to social criticism, and more specifically criticism of the financial, economic and capitalist systems.
He believes that in today’s transitional stage, visual material is the primary source to stay informed, noting that the ability to consider photography critically is essential.
Examining the differences among photographic art over time, Feil says that digital photography used to be used more for the purpose of concealing, a somewhat denial of new technology and software. The aesthetic is now changing as each artist challenges the medium.
He also drew comparisons between the United States and Europe about how the digital transformation of photography will affect the societies differently. Because photography was first accepted in the US, he predicts the change to be extremely relevant and important in the US society.
He says, “In the USA, photography has a strong relationship with advertising and therefore with the essence of capitalism. Images can create desire, refer to something one can obtain, and are often charged with a certain political or ideological connotation – although sometimes very cunningly disguised. To refer to the image as a commodity strongly related to a capitalistic or political ideology is something that is far more American than it is European.”
The transitional stages of photographic art have just begun, but are sure to bring forth many different ideas. Photography is growing, digitizing, and now presenting a clear and accessible platform to critically think about social, political and economic issues.