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Conference: Your Photographs on our Walls: Public-Generated Photography in Art Exhibitions

A hundred and twenty years after G. Eastman launched his Kodak box camera with the slogan ‘You press the button we do the rest’, the sweeping developments in the areas of mobile-phone technology and the Internet have revolutionized amateur image making anew. In this digital universe the means of production, (micro)publishing and displaying of photographs have come to the hands of the people at the largest ever scale, enabling a new culture of making and consuming photographs, and thus breathing new life (and afterlife) into vernacular practices. Although at an institutional level vernacular photographic practices had traditionally been excluded from the official history of photography, and the museum as a consequence, since the mid-90s several large-scale exhibitions have attempted to recontextualize the historical vernacular in the museum.

In recent years the participatory nature of ‘crowdsourcing’ afforded by social media platforms has also captured curators’ imagination, leading to an increasing number of exhibitions that either focus entirely on public-generated photography or accommodate public-contributed photography within a wider exhibition concept. So what makes vernacular imagery so appealing to curators and art museums and institutions today? This session aims to articulate the historical, institutional and curatorial motivations that underpin the integration/ assimilation of such imagery and its mundaneness and renewability in art exhibitions online and onsite. 

The 38th Annual AAH Conference & Bookfair invite academic and practice-based papers that explore current display practices around public-generated photography, the existing tensions between art and nonart artifacts, and the role of public-contributed photography in the formation of more inclusive curatorial narratives.

To be held at The Open University, Milton Keynes from 29th to 31st March 2012, details of the academic sessions, paper submissions, fees, registration etc can be found here.

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