Objektiv #10

In this issue, Charlotte Cotton and Bjarne Bare use the term ‘Post-photo- graphy’ when talking about the new picture generation, and the legendary Nan Goldin claims that with the advance of the digital, photography is dead. These comments beg the question: is the time for magazines like Objektiv over?

In #10 we investigate the context within which photography positions itself – the medium-specific galleries, fairs and magazines like our own. Do these contribute to a ‘photo ghetto’, as photo historian Mette Sandbye and curator Jens Erdmann Rasmussen term it in these pages, or are they necessary for a true understanding of photography?

This need to re-evaluate happens every so often in the life of this young medium: in our five-year existence we have witnessed several similar reconsiderations. Two years ago, Aperture’s new editor-in-chief Michael Famighetti relaunched the magazine in order to keep it fresh and to reflect how much had changed in both photography and publishing over the last decade. In this issue, Famighetti makes a strong argument for maintaining these medium-specific places: “Photography occupies a very large, generous tent and touches on so many other fields; it occupies a place in daily life that other art forms, like painting, don’t.”

The festivals are also changing. Several large art galleries like Gagosian have begun to exhibit at the famous Paris Photo, narrowing the gap between art and photography, and Rencontres d’Arles has appointed a new director, Sam Stourdzé, who takes on the job after five years as the director of another photo institution, Musée d’Elyseé. In our interview, he tells me that he believes he can bring the magic back to Arles. He intends to bring other media into the festival in order to create a wider dialogue, something we are seeing in many of the special galleries for lens-based art. 

What responsibility do the specialist photo galleries have today, and how can they open up the debate on the medium? This summer, I saw The Pale Fox by Camille Henrot at Charlottenborg in Copenhagen, now showing in Paris, and it was refreshing to experience such a well-con- sidered show. We are happy to include an interview with Henrot in this issue, where she talks about her use of the space with an installation that tells multiple narratives at once, mixes different genres and gives such a complete experience that it makes one optimistic for the medium’s future. It’s interesting that Henrot’s show was in a kunsthalle and not in a photo gallery, and the exhibition demonstrates how curators of me- dium-specific galleries need to open their minds to new ways of telling a story within the white cube. The time for beautiful photos, mounted democratically in a line on the gallery wall has passed. If photo galleries can’t give us such mind-blowing experiences, perhaps their time is up.

And maybe our time has passed too. But there are signs that this is not the case. When we launched the very first issue of Objektiv five years ago, our mission was to act like a time-capsule, documenting where contem- porary lens-based art is today. We adopted a gallery-in-a-journal format, where we could show, discuss and challenge photography, film and video art. Since the beginning we have asked artists to reflect on the medium in conversations with other artists, and for every issue we have invited an artist to make an exhibition within the magazine. Morten Andenæs, was the very first to be featured in these pages, and we have invited him back for this edition to talk about photography together with the American photographer Lucas Blalock. They offer their thoughts on the status of photography, calling it a ‘pubescent’ medium. This gives us hope that the medium is nowhere near ‘Post-photography’ and that there is much to come in the future, and still much to discuss.

As I write these words, the art-book store Printed Matter has just finished its annual book fair at MoMAPS1, this year with a focus on Norway and drawing over 30,000 people. Many collectors come back year after year to buy books, zines and magazines like ours, assuring us that such materials are essential platforms for the photographer. It was a fantastic celebration for printed art, and in many ways a confirmation of the importance of Objektiv’s continued existence.

Nina Strand

Founder / Editor-in-chief