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


Potential Histories of Photography

An exhibition opening and lecture by Ariella Azoulay about the political implications of photography

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

Organizing Institutions



Eduardo Cadava, Aaron Levy


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 October 31, 2018, with an opening reception and lecture by Ariella Azoulay entitled Potential Histories of Photography 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.

Azoulay's forthcoming book, Potential History (Verso, 2019), focuses on key political concepts-institutions: archive, sovereignty, art, and human rights. A concept and an approach that she has developed over the last decade, Potential History has far-reaching implications for the fields of political theory, archival formations, and photography studies. With photography, we can see clearly how imperial technologies operate. Photography is an event that consists of an encounter among many, despite the fact that we are always invited to learn it and account for it either as the enterprise of individual photographers or as a medium that portrays its subjects from the perspective of individuals. Azoulay will present some of the "potential histories" that she unfolded in her different archival projects.

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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. Her books include From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950 (Pluto Press, 2011), Civil Imagination: The Political Ontology of Photography (Verso, 2012) and The Civil Contract of Photography (Zone Books, 2008);

She is the curator of the archive "Act of State 1967-2007" (Centre Pompidou, 2016); Enough! The Natural Violence of the New World Order (F/Stop Festival, Leipzig, 2016); "The Body Politic" [in Really Useful Knowledge, curated by What, How & for Whom / WHW], (Reina Sofia, Madrid); and When The Body Politic Ceases To Be An Idea, Exhibition Room - Manifesta Journal Around Curatorial Practices No 16 (MOBY, 2013), among others.

She is also the director of a series of documentary films, including: Civil Alliances, Palestine, 47-48 (2012), I Also Dwell Among Your Own People: Conversations with Azmi Bishara (2004), and The Food Chain (2004).