A series of exhibitions with artists and collectives who use photography to contest dominant visual narratives of conflicts


Collaboration: A Potential History of Photography

An exhibition and research project that reorients the stories we know about how the photographic world is made

Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Artistic legacies
  • Curatorial practice

Organizing Institutions



Ariella Azoulay, Wendy Ewald, Susan Meiselas, Leigh Raiford, Laura Wexler


The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought is pleased to announce Collaboration: A Potential History of Photography, on display at Slought from September 6, 2018 through December 14, 2018, with an opening reception and lecture by Ariella Azoulay on Thursday, Sept 6 from 6-8pm. Collaboration is an ongoing research project and a pedagogical tool that explores photography through the lens of collaboration. Based on the assumption that a degree zero of collaboration is at the basis of the event of photography, the collaborative team proposes a potential history of photography, different from the dominant history of single photographers and their approach and techniques. The material, practical and political conditions of collaboration in and through photography are explored through over one hundred photography projects. Throughout, the exhibition seeks to make visible the various relationships, exchanges, and interactions between the participants in the event of photography that result in tangible traces of collaboration.

Collaboration is explored as a framework for collecting, preserving and studying existing images; as a basis for establishing civil archives by different communities; as a vantage point to reflect on relations of co-laboring that are hidden, denied, compelled, imagined, violent or empowering; as a pedagogic tool; as an intimate "face to face" encounter between photographer and photographed person, denied or acknowledged, sometimes over time; and as means of creating transformative potentialities in given political regimes of violence. These are some of the different aspects that the exhibition seeks to foreground in the studied projects, each of which is presented in a square that consists of reproduced images and quotations from the photographers, photographed persons and other spectators. They highlight different forms of collaboration, from friendly and cooperative to antagonistic and coercive. They challenge us to think more deeply about the dynamics through which our pictured world is made.

Collaboration is an experimental exhibition and ongoing experimental laboratory based on the assumption that photography is never a single person show - no author can determine alone the meanings of the photographic encounter for others. Photography always involves multiple others that initiate and shape with and against others the complex forms of exchange that the event of photography makes possible. This project is responding to a sense of urgency in dark times, acknowledging that these types of relationships between the participants in the event of photography may be offensive as it may be idyllic, coercive or liberating, they may involve abuse as much as assistance and solidarity. Collaboration takes place at the moment when a photograph is taken, or later, when it is reproduced and disseminated, juxtaposed to another, read by others, investigated, explored, preserved or accumulated in archives. Photography may bring together a community, empower its members as it can also intimidate or undermine their power, at least for a certain while. We invite people to collaborate with us in this ongoing exploration and expand the repertoire of forms of collaboration explored.

The project is led by Ariella Azoulay, Wendy Ewald, Susan Meiselas, Leigh Raiford, Laura Wexler and others, as well as students of four universities (Brown, Yale, Ryerson and Berkeley).

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Ariella Azoulay is a Professor of Modern Culture and Media and Comparative Literature at Brown University, as well as a film essayist and independent curator.

Wendy Ewald is a photographer who has for over forty years collaborated on art projects with children, families, women, and teachers.

Susan Meiselas is a photographer and curator who works collaboratively on collective projects with diverse communities.

Leigh Raiford is an Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she researches and teaches about race, justice and visuality.

Laura Wexler is a Professor of American Studies, Film & Media Studies, and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Yale University, and writes at the intersections of race, class, gender, and visual culture.


All programs held at Slought unless noted otherwise.

Thur, Sept 6, 6-8pm
Lecture by Ariella Azoulay

Wed, Oct 24, 4:30-7pm
Princeton University
McCormick Hall 101
Colloquium with Wendy Ewald, Susan Meiselas, and Laura Wexler

Thur, Oct 25, 6-8pm
Colloquium with Wendy Ewald, Susan Meiselas, and Laura Wexler

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