ORGANIZATION: Bombas Gens Centre d’Art
ARTISTS: Walker Evans, Robert Frank, David Goldblatt, Anthony Hernández, Helen Levitt, Susan Meiselas, Tod Papageorge, Ian Wallace, Garry Winogrand, among others
CURATORS: Julia Castelló, Sandra Guimarães, Vicent Todolí
This exhibition aims to revisit the concept “documentary style” as Olivier Lugon defines it: understand the document as form (and even as aesthetics). This “style” would be founded by Walker Evans and would have a great influence on North American photography from the 1930’s. Early examples are Helen Levitt or Robert Frank. In the first place, this type of photography will be understood as something related to reportage, photojournalism – which was shown in newspapers and magazines, as Double Elephant Press – but in a matter of time manifests a need of experimenting with the photographic language itself, as Lee Friedlander or Garry Winogrand did.
Seriality is one of the specificities of the photographic medium, accompanying these authors in their need of reflecting the “reality” of their surrounding society, either through portraits or the representation of landscapes. This seriality might also link with the need for classifying to understand similarities and differences in structure and appearance, as Bernd and Hilla Becher or David Goldblatt did in the 1960’s.
The exhibition studies this way of understanding photography all the way to the 1980’s with Tod Papageorge and Anthony Hernández, who include colour in their works.
It is nonetheless a “style” that emerges from the straight photography in the United States, having great success in Germany in the 1920’s. However, although we find some common characteristics in the way Evans or Hernández take photographs, it should be questioned how documentary the photography is (review the idea of document as “trace”), the truthfulness between the photographs, the mise-en-scène, the seriality…
Picture credit: David Goldblatt, While in traffic, 1967. Per Amor a l’Art Collection © David Goldblatt