Willie Doherty, Punctum
Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg
26 July–21 September 2014
Curated by Séamus Kealy
“I was overcome with an ‘ontological’ desire: I wanted to learn at all costs what Photography was ‘in itself’… ” –Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida
Punctum is an exhibition exploring the nature of photography today. Consisting of 50 works chosen by artists, curators and writers, and including a series of lectures and a publication, Punctum takes its cue from the term “punctum” coined by Roland Barthes in his final book, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Barthes uses this term as a linguistic device to examine the meaning of photography. The term refers, for example, to a striking detail in the photograph that captivates or “wounds” the viewer, and completes the photograph as an object of reflection. Barthes goes much further than this, and ascribes a number of phenomenological considerations within the sphere of meaning that is “punctum.”
This exhibition takes this concept and term of “punctum” as a starting point for invited participants to select photographs that, for each of them, are emblematic of “punctum,” given today’s context for photography and our constant grappling with aesthetics. Accompanying each chosen photograph is a short text to complement and elucidate their decision. The backdrop to this project are ongoing ontological considerations for photography, especially now, long after its digitization and further universalization. Photography has always been a problematic medium, as a so-called indexical form, as a replacer of memory, as a manipulated device, as an instrument of surveillance, control and militarism, and even as an often-disputed art form. With photography’s evolution into the digital age, these problematics have arguably multiplied. Author Geoff Dyer, for example, argues that digital photography “seems devoid of any qualities of past time,” that it itself no longer holds the qualities that Barthes would have ascribed to it. According to Barthes, the photograph is the “living image of a dead thing” and thus has something of “resurrection” to it. Would that sentiment hold today, when the photograph has become engulfed within the constant, ever-changing and unfixed flow of images? Would we today agree to refer to Barthes’ terms such as the “profound madness,” “shared hallucination,” or “the Intractable” as the elemental forms of a photograph? Today, we might ask, what is its ontological status?
Accompanying this exhibition is a lecture series on topical subjects of photography today. A publication co-produced with Fotohof edition is presented at the end of the exhibition. Lastly, a collaborative public response to Punctum is mounted during the exhibition’s duration. Visit instagram.com/salzburgerkunstverein to participate.
Saturday, 26 July, 4–6pm
Boris Groys, Ruth Horak, Friedrich Tietjen
Saturday, 20 September, 5–7pm
Séamus Kealy, Francis McKee, Esther Ruelfs
& catalog presentation Punctum
Participants – artists & photographers:
Hildegund Amanshauser (AT) – Ines Doujak (AT) / Kader Attia (F) – Kader Attia / Geoffrey Batchen (NZ) – Alison Rossiter (USA) / Sabine Bitter/Helmut Weber (AT) – Sabine Bitter/Helmut Weber / Marc De Blieck (BE) – Team of Albrecht Meydenbauer (DE) / Iñaki Bonillas (MX) – Iñaki Bonillas / Adam Budak (PL) – unknown / Duncan Campbell (IE) – Willie Doherty (IE) / Philippe van Cauteren (BE) – unknown / Vaari Claffey (IE) – Paul Allen (USA) / Moyra Davey (CA) – Moyra Davey / Geoff Dyer (GB) – Oscar de Marcos (E) / Antje Ehmann (DE) – Antje Ehmann / Silvia Eiblmayr (AT) – Francesca Woodman (USA) / Sabine Folie (AT) – Klaus Scherübel (AT) / Maria Fusco (GB) – unknown / Gauri Gill (IND) – Gauri Gill / Felix Gmelin (DE/SE) – Felix Gmelin / Barbad Golshiri (IR) – Barbad Golshiri / Boris Groys (RUS) – Natalia Nikitin (RUS) / Eva Grubinger (AT) – Ed van der Elsken (NL) / Karin Hanssen (BE) – unknown / Martin Herbert (GB) – August Sander (DE) / Matthias Herrmann (AT) – Matthias Herrmann / Antonia Hirsch (DE) – unknown / Martin Hochleitner (AT) – Rainer Iglar (AT) / Ruth Horak (AT) – Tatiana Lecomte (F) / Geoffrey James (CA) – Geoffrey James / Anna Jermolaewa (RUS/AT) – Anna Jermolaewa / Simone Kappeler (CH) – Simone Kappeler / Eva Kotátková (CS) – Eva Kotátková / Suzanne Lafont (F) – Suzanne Lafont / Wilfried Lentz (NL) – Carleton Watkins (USA) / Declan Long (IE) – Tom Wood (IE) / Ken Lum (CA) – Ken Lum / Anja Manfredi (AT) – Anja Manfredi / Francis McKee (IE) – Pablo Guardiola (PR) / Rabih Mroué (RL) – unknown / Doina Popescu (CA) – Spring Hurlbut (CA) / Barbara Probst (DE) – Andreas Wutz (DE) / Meggy Rustamova (GE/BE) – unknown / Mark Sealy (GB) – Robert Lebeck (DE) / Corin Sworn (GB) – unknown / Friedrich Tietjen (DE) – unknown / Walker & Walker (IE) – Walker & Walker / Scott Watson (CA) / Carlo Gentile (IT) / Peter Weibel (AT) – Hiroshi Sugimoto (J) / Louwrien Wijers (NL) – Cathrien van Ommen (NL) / Paolo Woods (NL/CA) – Paolo Woods / Tobias Zielony (DE) – Seiichi Furuya (J)