Art Madrid'23 – WHAT WILL PHOTOGRAPHY BE UP TO IN THE 21ST CENTURY?

We all know the famous line "a picture is worth a thousand words". And so is it on many occasions. Our reality feeds by a multitude of images that we consume daily in the era of over-information. According to 2017 data, every minute 65,000 photos are uploaded to Instagram, 400 hours of video to YouTube and 243,000 images to Facebook. The statistics will have varied a bit in these two years, but always upwards. Precisely for this reason, it is sometimes difficult to value photography as an artistic discipline, since there is a widespread notion that obtaining a good image is within everyone's reach. That's why we ask ourselves: what is the future of photography in the 21st century?

First image even taken with a person, by Louis Daguerre, 1838

Reviewing the history of photography, we must not forget that in its beginnings, it was not properly considered an artistic discipline. In the mid-19th century, the capture of the image was seen as a technical improvement that allowed freezing a moment for memory, with a purpose more documentary and for the historical record than an original creation. This technique lacked the qualities traditionally attributed to works of art: there was no hand mastering, no previous training was necessary, nothing new was produced, and it was limited to reproducing reality.

Robert Doisneau, “La Dame Indignée”, 1948 (imagen de 1stdibs.com)

The expansion of photography to make portraits, and the progressive replacement of painting for these purposes, coincided in time with the naturalist movement, which advocated an objective representation of reality devoid of elaborate compositions and the constant search for traditional beauty canons. Photography adapted so well to this movement that it was, in fact, a high impulse for its expansion. To this were added some technical advances of the moment that contributed to the popularisation of this discipline, increasingly accessible and portable, with smaller and easy-to-move-outside-the-dark-room-of-portrait cameras.

Jeff Wall, “Invisible man”, 1999-2000 (image from MoMA)

Nowadays, no one doubts that photography is art. The problem lies in maintaining the integrity of this discipline with such imprecise contours between what the artist can do and what is available to everyone who has, not even a camera, but a mobile phone. Also when photography became enormously popular, from the 50s of the last century onwards, the images maintained the charm of spontaneous capture, of the pieces of authentic life stolen from its protagonists, of the magic of what is saved of oblivion in a second where coincidence and expertise match. Over the years, photographers complained that there was no longer any spontaneity in the people, the overprotection of the own image subtracts naturalness from the compositions, and there are fewer photos that emerge from chance.

Isabel Muñoz “Untitled”, from the series “Agua”, 2017.

Indeed, time imposes new guidelines. Contemporary photography goes forward thanks to the sophistication of the equipment itself and the use of other tools that allow taking images never thought before. In addition to this, the very idea around this discipline has changed, and subgenres begin to appear. Some of them have a clear artistic vocation while others seek a different message, more aligned to documentary or reporting goals. It is not strange, therefore, that some artists approach photographic projects with two phases of creation, so they first set their own scenarios to take the image then. Hybridisation with digital techniques is also widespread, although it is usual to distinguish between authentic photography, taken as it is, and digital composition when it is most intervened. It is difficult to predict what direction photography will take in the next few years, but one thing that has never changed is the curiosity that human beings feel for their fellow human beings and the power that a sincere look has in ourselves. That will never change.

 

In the year 2020 in the heart of Barcelona a wandering gallery was born, the same one that in February 2021 would debut at Art Madrid with an exhibition proposal focused on contemporary portraits; with this subject matter it would manage to create a powerful dialogue between artwork and audience and make the seal Inéditad remain in the history of the event that contained it.

Jean Carlos Puerto. Protección. Oil and copper leaf on wood. 60 x 48. 2021. Image courtesy of the gallery.

Since that first time and until today, the wandering gallery has managed to build projects on otherness, has repositioned in the spotlight the discourses on the LGTBIQ+ collective, has consolidated a group of artists who share its principles of resilience and empathy and the best thing is that it continues to bet from the professionalism and commitment to give voice to the difference.

Claudio Petit-Laurent.. El Joven de la Perla. Oil on wood. 30 x 30 cm. 2023. Image courtesy of the gallery.

Inéditad Gallery, thanks to its founder Luis López, its collaborators and the infinite possibilities manifested in the works of the artists it represents, is a gallery that has demonstrated its capacity and courage to stimulate the sensibility of the public through art and seduce a generation that moves between the glass window and the analogical story. Inéditad is a nomadic gallery that has gathered around it a community of artists and has moved the context with exhibition projects that think about LGTBIQ+ art without prejudices.

Pepa Salas Vilar. Las marcas del arcoiris. Oil on canvas. 40 x 50 cm. 2022. Image courtesy of the gallery.

Pride and Prejudice was inaugurated. An exhibition that brings together the works of sixteen artists: Abel Carrillo, Alex Domènech, Carlos Enfedaque, Silvia Flechoso, Jamalajama, Daniel Jaén, Claudio Petit-Laurent, Jean Carlos Puerto, Fernando Romero, Pablo Rodríguez, Pepa Salas Vilar, Jack Smith, Pablo Sola, Bran Sólo, Elia Tomás and Utürüo. Painting, illustration, photography and digital art are the manifestations that bring into dialogue around fifty neatly threaded pieces, in a discursive line that discusses such a latent phenomenon as discrimination. To achieve this, the artists invited to the exhibition question themselves whether: Does discrimination exist within the LGTBIQ+ collective?

Pride and Prejudice Official Poster. Image courtesy of the gallery.

With approaches on and from the body, the proposal invites to celebrate diversity, proposes to question and self-question the prejudices and attitudes of society against the collective. Pride and Prejudice is a space for dialogue about the constructs imposed on us by society. It is also an oasis in which to deconstruct with tolerance and respect the subjectivities that sometimes prevent us from approaching the production of the participating artists, simply because "the beautiful" does not fit in an androgynous body. The subjugation of stereotypes are pressed with determination to find the beauty of diversity in other palpable facets of reality.

Pablo Sola. All men are dogs. Photography. 2014. Image courtesy of the gallery.

Throughout these three years Inéditad has stimulated the vindictive projection towards bad practices, has questioned estates around the LGTBIQ+ body and the most admirable thing, is that these capacities have resurfaced around the dialogue and the visual narrative of the stories that are told from the visual: Artworks that are people, art that is, per se, humanity. Overcome impositions and accept what is different in order to continue fighting against homophobia, biphobia, lesbophobia or transphobia and defend the equal rights that all the acronyms of the collective deserve in our community.

That's Pride and Prejudice: One creature, the happiest in the world. And maybe other projects and other people have said it - or felt it - before, but none so fairly.

Silvia Flechoso. Hola, soy maricón. Oil on canvas. 73 x 54 cm. 2023. Image courtesy of the gallery.

From June 8th until June 22nd you can visit Pride and Prejudice. Carrer de Palau núm. 4. Canal Gallery space. Barcelona.