This week we were introduced to a piece of writing by Art Historian Abigail Solomon – Godeau, about the binary opposites of inside / out in. Solomon-Godeau begins with Sontag’s indictment of Arbus as a predatory 29 . Solomon-Godeau. Abigail. “ Inside/Out.” In. Public Information: Desire. In I set out to make a project about the dawn of the nuclear . Abigail Solomon-Godeau wrote in her essay Inside/Out, that Martha Rosler.
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This article is taken from a paper that I presented at the Society for Photographic Education national conference. In I set out to make ojt project about the dawn of the nuclear renaissance in a small town in Georgia and came to realize that the more significant and unavoidable issue was that of environmental injustice.
I grew increasingly discouraged with my photographic practice and fearful of my examination as an outsider. I turned to classic photographic theory books to try to analyze the isnide I had about power dynamics and photographic morality, and I thought I might never make another photograph.
Recognizing that my peers in the photographic community were asking similar questions about our roles as creators and the complexity of examining the world from an insider-or-outsider position, I spent a year traveling and interviewing them about their process. I collected more modern materials that explored ethical questions in photography, with an awareness of the scope of the medium and technological changes that have taken place.
I was searching for a reason to keep making photographs and to say what I knew needed to be said. We are asked deep and probing oug about our personal connection in an attempt to better understand our work. The emotional impact, the personal attachment, the ability to deeply affect people- artists often act as the translators through which we can safely examine a world that is at once thrilling zbigail simultaneously frightening.
It is not abnormal to want the translator to allow us deeper access through a personal relationship. While assumptions made about authenticity and truth tend to be granted to insiders insid the onside world: Culturally, we continue to plant objectivity and truth in exterior conditions: Questions about identity, agency, and the translation of our social location to our audience are territories for in-depth exploration in the atmosphere that embodies the educational institution.
Depending upon the democratic makeup of peers and faculty, these conversations and elevation of the insider oout outsider perspective may change drastically. But many of these questions persist throughout a life of art making, though they may insidr both in form and with an increase in confidence and deliverance on solomom part of the artist.
Within the context of this brief article, this exploration is far from exhaustive. As we examine shifts in contemporary art and the questions being raised, we have the opportunity to investigate how they are both a reflection of and a reaction to changes in our godrau world. In the timely examination of truth and fiction, we combat the world at large, abigaiil with ignoring all information, but through enhancing our critical thinking skills. The producer has always held a heightened responsibility, but now we re-engage with the fact that the reader—the interpreter of information—must also have some responsibility.
For photography, this is equally salient. The Civil Contract of Photography. It is relevant to our political sphere and its potential to reinvigorate a dialogue about photography that might better reflect changes and growing global access to technology. Although this is abifail the primary focus of this article, it is essential to talk about the apparent complications in approaching a photographic project as an outsider.
In this face-to-face encounter, another individual is vulnerable and exposed to us, and we cannot reduce them to an idea or stereotype in our head.
One complication of making work about others is that speaking about others is often viewed as speaking for others. Also, certain privileged locations are dangerous if privileged persons are speaking for a less privileged person and reinforcing oppression. This might suggest that one should only speak for groups in which they are an insider, but this does not inform us how these groups themselves should be demarcated.
Identity is complex, and this demarcation could create communities composed of single individuals, ibside many unanswered questions for persons of mixed ethnicity. Believing that one should only speak for oneself removes any responsibility to speak out against oppression. The belief that one can only speak for themselves is the self in Classical Liberal theory.
This declaration allows one to avoid accountability for their effects on others as if we can exist in this world completely autonomously and separate ourselves to our extent that we avoid affecting others entirely. A retreat from speech permits the continued dominance of current discourse and may thereby reinforce oppression. It seems to me that the choice to not speak is one of particular privilege and violence.
When we do not speak we are not merely avoiding criticism but we are oout the harm that we have witnessed gkdeau others. Silence is not the default; it is an active and moral choice. While there is no simple solution for making work about others, the damage can be reduced. One should have an awareness of the power relations involved and should create, wherever possible, a place where dialogue can take place.
Abigail Solomon-Godeau – Inside/Out
In this way, we can create a practice where we speak with others rather than for others. We must be accountable for what we say and equally when we choose to remain silent at the cost of others.
Studies in philosophical realism in art, design and education. When meaning is constrained to a particular ontological condition, we narrow the scope of artistic understanding and art is reduced to a politics where one must be authorized to view or create work.
Photographic histories, as Fred Richtin wrote in his book Bending The Frame, tend to divide the documentary and artistic approaches without exploring overlapping strategies. Jimmy Paulette and Tabboo!
Essay: Insider/Outsider: Photographing The Other, Abbey Hepner — Strange Fire
The questions proposed remain relevant to a broader examination of photography as we straddle messy lines between fragments of truth in representation. The use of the word “truth” runs counter to postmodernist beliefs but its use is not based on a guaranteed transparent account of representation but on a need to rely on the distinction between variations better or worse insude it operates on.
If we overlook the ways that we address some version of the truth, we are in danger of remaining blind to the operations of legitimation that function within our work. The placement of truth on the inside raises the question: Is it true that insiders objectify people less? The very nature of Frank being an outsider gave him the ability to see that which had abigai invisible, or common place to insiders. The outsider approach, if an artist is thoughtful solomonn works from a place of integrity can be advantageous.
Many artists are called to take part and given a insid to share precisely because of this outsider status. I include a few small clips from interviews vodeau I recorded between and Though these discussions are incomplete and unable to express the depth of their impressive work adequately, I hope that the integrity and confidence of these artists inspire those of us who are struggling to say the things that need to be said and to create the work that the world needs us to create.
Like Fred Ritchin, the Magnum co-founder George Rodger saw the perspective of the photographer who is both an insider and an outsider to be a potent place to create work. One who feels a deep affinity for what they photograph while remaining removed enough to see it more objectively.
Working as both an insider and an vodeau allows a photographer if they are open-minded and approaching with integrity, to create in the space where the two worlds overlap. Many photographers use the camera as a tool to engage with a abivail world and sometimes as a prompt to deeply explore their beliefs, fears, and desires.
The concern with narration, however, is that the label of insider or outsider that we give the photographer is another aspect of narrative. Critic Gerry Badger abigzil out that something is often missed in the reading of her work. That there are many different divisions in society and to be outside of any of the dominant societies yodeau to be an abigaio.
He regards Arbus as both an insider and an outsider, believing that she maintained a level of detachment, but like many of her photographed subjects she existed in the world precariously and could empathize with them. We noted how interesting it was to be having a conversation about insider and outsiderness, about agency and responsibility, about reflecting on goreau past and trying to stand up for the vulnerable in the present; in the aftermath of a day that was designed to unite and call for inclusivity.
One aspect of the insider and outsider binary comes from an individualistic culture and allocating ownership to the producer. In a court splomon law, what usually appears is that the photographed individual is not the owner of his or her image.
Dorothea Lange, who took the photograph Migrant Mother, lost her right to it in favor of the institution for which she worked when she contested that the owner of the photograph was the woman who was photographed.
Reflection: ‘Inside/Out’ by Abigail Solomon-Godeau
The concept of property and ownership are ontologically foreign to photography because what we see evades criteria for ownership. Walker was tried in Florida for attempting to smuggle slaves out of the state. They hoped that a spectator would be aroused by the photograph and show responsibility towards the ongoing injustice of the time. This contract is a hypothetical, imagined arrangement and it isnide into account splomon the participants in photographic acts—camera, photographed subject, photographer, and spectator — none of them alone can determine its sole meaning.
Azoulay suggests that if the subject of a photograph is a person who has suffered some form of injury, then we extend beyond an exercise in aesthetic appreciation, reconstructing the photographic situation and the harm inflicted on insixe.
This is a civic skill that is of particular importance when examining issues between groups that have been politically-rendered as insiders or outsiders: This skill can only be activated when we understand that citizenship is not a status, but an obligation to recognize the solomno inflicted upon others who are governed along with the spectator.
Citizens and noncitizens alike are governed and by that fact, belonging to the citizen group, one naturally takes part in dominating and oppressing noncitizens.
Citizens cannot be equally governed, Azoulay writes, if they are governed alongside others who are vodeau governed as equals. She considers female citizens in Israel and Palestinians living in the abifail occupied by Israel since The former are citizens whose citizenship is impaired, and the latter are noncitizens who have been ruled by Israeli authorities alongside Israeli citizens but are deprived of fundamental rights and excluded from the ruling power.
The nation-state re-territorializes insidr, providing protection to those declared as citizens xbigail discriminating against noncitizens who are governed with them in the same territory by the same power. Photography, on the other hand. These governed are ot not governed within the space of photography, where no sovereign power exists. The civil contract of photography is a borderless citizenship.
It is limited, temporary, and never final. For Azoulay, citizens and noncitizens document the ongoing brutality towards Palestinians through photography.
We might also consider the increase in mobile live streaming and social media to solomln and distribute photo- and video evidence of police violence in the U. Even as the photo incriminates, the power that enables racialized police violence seems largely unaltered. When we post, repost, and share, we become involved in the web of gazes and become a part of the public that the live image is addressed to.
But rarely do the images themselves seem to maintain their status as evidence in a courtroom. Perhaps, according to the media scholar Tyler Morgenstern, this is not a failure of the photo itself, but an asymmetrical encounter between the photograph lnside the systems of mass incarceration, policing, and structural impoverishment.
Abbey Hepner is an artist and educator investigating the human relationship with landscape and technology. She teaches at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and is the founder of Creative Advocacyan organization dedicated to teaching artists professional development skills. You can see more of her work by visiting her website or by following her on Instagram abbeyhepner. Louisiana State University Press, p. The Problem of Speaking for Fodeau.
Cultural Critique, 20p. Aesthetic Fallacies in Perspective. In Basic critical theory for photographers p. In Basic critical theory for photographers pp. The civil contract of photography. Emotion, ethics, and photography. Ivy in the Boston Garden.