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The changing dynamic
Each chapter in CollaborationThe book is organized chronologically but also includes contemporary work. Examples include series by Meiselas & Ewald as well as self-portraits of Nona Faustine. Endia beal has created collaborative portraits. Geert van Kesteren after the Iraq War, and Carolyn Drake’s participatory work with the Uyghur community in China, in which they drew on her images. Each project has a spread, and the accompanying text includes comments from people who appear in the images, their names and where possible, comments from photographers. The texts include those by Abigail Solomon Godeau, David Levi Strauss, Mark Sealy and other writers.
“We have not stopped with the photographers’ ‘intentions’ or ‘statements’, but rather we look at those photographic events as they unfold over time,” explains the book’s introduction. “Attending to the mode of participation of the photographed persons, in particular, enabled us to reconfigure also the participation of the photographers, not as solo masters but rather as parties to the event of photography. We have refused to diminish or deny the collective effort.”
The eight chapters, which include titles such as The person in the photograph was always there, Reshaping the Authorial Position. Other ‘clusters’Tags like “” and “” will help you to draw attention to the negative uses of cameras. The Apparatus is a sovereign and civil power. This de-centring and re-reading of photographers’ work was not always easy for the featured image-makers to accept. “When the writing was edited, we always went back to the photographer,” says Meiselas. “And there were some who felt that the writers had not understood their work. It was challenging for them to feel not seen in the way that they see themselves, especially if they’re more used to being celebrated.”
“But that was very deliberate from the beginning, the idea of it being first person from the photographed person, and the photographer, and of having an additional commentary or interpretation or consideration,”Adds Ewald “We were trying very hard to keep those balanced, to have the voices come from all sides.”
Collaboration picks out some cautionary examples such as surveillance shots by Prague’s secret police, as well as more positive approaches, such as LaToya Ruby Frazier’s community-based work. But the book does not intend to pass judgment, or even assume a authoritative take. Instead it argues that photographs’ meanings are never fixed, and aims to open them up further. Meiselas explains that the project aims to make people aware of inappropriate behavior, but also to inspire further questions and a change in work. “It’s not a fixed set to be mimicked, it’s much more to inspire the next stage of exploration,”She says
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