reGeneration: 50 photographers of tomorrow
January 22, 2009
Looking to the future of photography
What are young photographers up to at the outset of the twenty-first century? How do they see the world? How much do they respect, build on, or reject tradition? Are they busy in the darkroom or the computer lab–or both? reGeneration: 50 photographers of tomorrow sets out to discover answers to these intriguing questions, previewing the work of fifty photographers who, if they live up to their promise, may well emerge as some of the finest of their generation. This remarkable exhibition is the broadest and most enterprising survey of its kind, showcasing the creativity, ingenuity, and inspiration of these photographic artists in over one hundred and fifty superb images. William A. Ewing, Nathalie Herschdorfer, and Jean-Christophe Blaser, curators at Musée de l’Elysée, selected the photographers from hundreds of candidates submitted by more than sixty of the world’s top photography schools. The panel’s choices were made with one key question in mind: are these images likely to be known in twenty years’ time? The results show that, as the new century builds momentum, the art of photography is alive and well, and that photographers of extraordinary talent are already making their mark.
Highlights from the exhibition include:
Keren Assaf tries to understand Israeli society–her own landscape and culture–by comparing the Israeli dream and the American dream. What influence does American culture have on the Middle East as a whole, and on Israel in particular? While taking part in an exchange with a New York art school, Assaf began to collect images of American families and suburbs. Inspired by advertising techniques, she composed and staged her pictures in a way designed to give the impression of ‘an ideal family, pastoral surroundings, a gleaming car, a beautiful house’. It goes without saying that none of these things is ‘real’. Back in Israel, she got her family to take part in staged scenes that are reminiscent of movies, in order to ask questions about Israeli reality. She shows that the differences between Israel and the US are beginning to blur, that the suburbs of both countries are becoming increasingly similar, and that this trend of conforming with the American way of life is often used as a way of escaping from life in Israel.
The television studios photographed by Shigeru Takato in various cities of Europe and New Zealand blatantly display their artificial nature. They are lit as if for a broadcast, but imprisoned by their sets, and devoid of the human presence and sounds that usually bring them to life. The artist questions the power of television, whose studios are coming more and more to resemble spaceships in science fiction film, and who in a few seconds can release their cargo of images, ideas and news onto the entire world. Contrary to what is generally believed, the true star is television itself and not its presenters, who are in fact quite ephemeral.
Nicholas Prior is interested in two particular groups of people: children and the homeless in contemporary America. In their own ways, both of them live on the margins of society, in a world that remains invisible to many adults. In the series Age of Man, the photographer looked at childhood as a social construct rather than a biological distinction. Deliberately leaving adults out of the picture field, Prior showed children isolated in deceptively pleasant surroundings. Although adults are physically absent from the images, their world is imposed on the children through their fashions, their conventions, their technology and their rituals. In all of his work, Prior subtly creates a somewhat unsettling world that brings to mind a fairytale, a story in which fear and reassurance are closely connected.
This exhibition was organized by Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland. The curators are William A. Ewing, Nathalie Herschdorfer, and Jean-Christophe Blaser. The United States presentation of reGeneration: 50 photographers of tomorrow received support from Pro Helvetia, Arts Council of Switzerland.
Aperture, a not-for-profit organization devoted to photography and the visual arts, has organized this traveling exhibition and produced the accompanying publication.