The Museo Reina Sofía Study Centre inaugurates a study area on photography, coordinated by Jorge Ribalta, that aims to encourage photographic studies by following a social and cultural focus. This programme, developed through a broad array of activities — seminars, lectures, guided tours, encounters— also seeks to put in place a network between different focal points of research, with national and international scope, to work towards shaping a discursive public sphere on photography and its theories, practices and history.
The programme begins its journey from the context of Western modern art, characterised by the distinctiveness and regard for the specific nature of each artform. At the end of the 19th century, however, photography burst away into a hybrid form owing to the dozens of uses and social practices it triggered. Charles Baudelaire’s famous condemnation of photography in The Salon of 1859, ruling that its role must be as the “humble servant” to science and the arts, would form a long-lasting categorisation. The field of photography has thereafter been constituting different aesthetic, communicative and epistemic impulses and demands — as a hybrid, multifarious and lesser art, photography opened up a disruptive space, a space of otherness, within art’s modernity. A new history of photography should begin precisely from such alterity.
The international seminar Towards a Political History of Photography, which gets this new area off the ground, is organised into three round-tables of debate, each one pivoting around a case study, with a view to bringing together a range of research focal points and methods. The first table, Counter-Narratives, sets forth a re-examination of the figure of French photographer Eugène Atget based on an analysis of the ideological affiliations in his work, both implicit and explicit. The second, Uses of Photography, presents different experiences of resignifying archive photographs linked to dictatorships and wars. The third table, Collective Photographic Practices, places photography at the centre of the struggles for representation and political engagement, underscoring how the circulation of images enables faraway struggles to connect.
is a lecturer in Visual Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Liverpool (UK). She is the author of Playful Memories: The Autofictional Turn in Post-Dictatorship Argentina
(2016) and has co-edited a number of books, including Instantáneas de la memoria. Fotografía y dictadura en Argentina y América Latina
(with Natalia Fortuny and Luís García, 2013).
Lee Douglas is a visual anthropologist, documentary film-maker, cultural manager and lecturer at Madrid’s New York University and at UCEAP. She is director of the cultural programme at the International Institute and is a producer on the digital re-publishing of the photobook Chile from Within with photographer Susan Meiselas.
Steve Edwards is a professor of History and Theory of Photography at Birkbeck College, University of London (UK). He is the author of The Making of English Photography (2006) and editor of the book series Historical Materialism.
Jorge Moreno Andrés is a social anthropologist and film-maker. He is author of the book El duelo revelado. La vida social de las fotografías familiares de las víctimas del franquismo (2019).
Molly Nesbit es profesora de arte en el Vassar College (EE. UU.). Autora de Atget’s Seven Albums (1994) y Their Common Sense (2000). En 2013 publicó The Pragmatism in the History of Art, el primer volumen de una serie que recopila sus ensayos y conferencias. El segundo volumen, Midnight: The Tempest Essays, apareció en 2017.
Darren Newbury es profesor de historia de la fotografía en la Universidad de Brighton (Reino Unido). Autor de Defiant Images. Photography and Apartheid South Africa (2009) y People Apart: 1950s Cape Town Revisited (2013). Coeditor de The African Photographic Archive: Research and Curatorial Strategies (2015) y del número especial de Visual Studies, “Photography and African Futures” (2018).
Inés Plasencia is a researcher, independent cultural manager and teacher. She is a lecturer in the Department of History and Art Theory at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and a professor at Madrid’s Duke University. She has worked with cultural institutions that include the Museo Reina Sofía, Institut Valencià d'Art Moderne (IVAM) and Tabakalera-Donostia Centre for Contemporary Culture, among others.
Jorge Ribalta is an artist and independent curator. His projects as a curator most notably include the exhibitions A Hard, Merciless Light. The Worker Photography Movement, 1926–1939 and Not Yet. On the Reinvention of Documentary and the Critique of Modernism, both in the Museo Reina Sofía (2011 in 2015, respectively).
Ileana Selejan is an art historian, researcher and a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at University College London. She is currently working on the project ‘Citizens of Photography: The Camera and the Political Imagination’, funded by the European Research Council.
Susana de Sousa Dias is a film-maker and lecturer at the University of Lisbon. She was previously director of Doclisboa and is the author of works such as 48 (2009) and Luz Obscura (2016).
Rocío Trigoso is a researcher and visual anthropologist. She lectures at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Lima, and is co-editor of La Calle es el Cielo. La Lima de Daniel Pajuelo (2014).
Education programmed developed with the sponsorship of