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

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Photography in Crisis

A retrospective exhibition of Depression Era, a collective art project in Athens, Greece engaging the "Greek crisis" and its aftermath

Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Politics / Economics

Organizing Institutions

Slought

Funders

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

Acknowledgments

Sally Stein and the Estate of Allan Sekula

Opens to public

01/17/2019

Address

Slought
4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought is pleased to announce Photography in Crisis: Depression Era, 2011-2019, a retrospective exhibition presenting the Depression Era project, a collective lens-based arts project based in Athens, Greece whose work engages the so-called "Greek crisis" and its aftermath, on display from January 17 – February 17, 2019. During this time, Allan Sekula's "Waiting for the Tear Gas" (1999) will also be on view in our Mediatheque as a companion piece to the exhibition. An opening reception will take place on Thursday, January 17, 2019 from 6-9pm, with a conversation featuring members of the collective at 7pm, including Pavlos Fysakis, Yiannis Hadjiaslanis, Yorgos Prinos, Georges Salameh, Vangelis Tatsis, and Pasqua Vorgia.

The Depression Era collective was founded in 2011. Driven by a spirit of collaboration and a determined social and political impulse, the project brings together artists, photographers, writers, curators, in order to articulate a common discourse against the extreme social, economic, and political transformations that Greece has experienced in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Focusing on the financial and social crisis that has so effected such large swaths of Greek society, the transformations that have taken place in urban and social landscapes because of this crisis, the intensification of migration and the influx of refugees, the increase in homelessness, the ruination of public systems, the collapse of neighborhoods, and the increased vulnerability of all kinds of bodies, Depression Era has sought to provide a visual language for understanding not only the human cost of the crisis but also the possibility of an artistic activism based on visual literacy.

Depression Era is therefore not only a project that begins in response to an economic and social crisis—a project that seeks to present the crisis through several mediums, and especially through photography—but a project that also seeks to think about the way in which this crisis evokes a crisis within photography itself. In what way can photography—as a medium, as a practice, as a sociological and documentary practice and a theoretical and even philosophical intervention—represent crisis, transformation, dispossession, and displacement? How can photography address these issues in a meaningful way?

In order to think about these questions, the Depression Era project seeks to inhabit the urban and social landscapes of the crisis. It begins as a collective experiment that, picturing the Greek city and its outer regions, the private lives of outcasts, the emergence of the Commons and snapshots of everyday life that often remain unnoticed, seeks to understand, as clearly as possible, the social, economic, and historical changes currently taking place in Greece. The collective's name takes its point of departure from its sense that entropy, disaster, uncertainty, and insolvency are also states of mind that are presently ushering us into an era in which notions of progress, ideas of growth, and the reflex of looking forward to a future are no longer dominant modes of perceiving and creating in the world.

For this reason, Depression Era seeks to overcome the mediatic white noise of current public discourse by creating its own mosaic of images and texts. It offers actions, the design of new spaces, digital platforms and interfaces, and publications that dynamically explore this mosaic. At the same time, it organizes educational initiatives and includes calls to young artists hoping to create an artistic archive of the crisis and, through this archive, a new digital and physical Commons, a kind of "sidewalk museum" that might present an alternative, informal record of contemporary history to our public spaces and, in doing so, call forth, in time, the possibility of another era, one that would surpass the Depression Era.

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The Depression Era collective seeks to create a multidimensional project that includes exhibitions, educational projects, public interventions, and a forum for discussing the role and place of photography within the worlds of contemporary social and political life.

www.depressionera.gr

This exhibition is presented alongside, and against the backdrop of, Allan Sekula's "Waiting for the Tear Gas" (1999), since it too addresses the devastating consequences of abstract global capital, which have included, then as now, an intensification and deepening of humanitarian crises around the globe. In juxtaposing these two projects, we want to initiate a broader discussion about the aftermath of what Wendy Brown has called the "economization of democracy."

"Once the economization of democracy's terms and elements is enacted in law, culture, and society, popular sovereignty becomes flatly incoherent. In markets, the good is generated by individual activity, not by shared political deliberation and rule. And, where there are only individual capitals and marketplaces, the demos, the people, do not exist."
- Wendy Brown


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