Encounters: Migrants * Photographers * Artists * Activists
An online exhibition by the Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz
Photography and migration. Is there anyone who cannot help thinking of the images that come before our eyes every day in the press and social media? These images convey a collective human tragedy, as well as individual destinies and stories of hope and despair, uprooting, exile and diaspora, trauma and memory, identity and otherness. Some of these images become iconic, merely depicting migration if not actually turning it into an exercise in aesthetics. Others serve as encounters among migrants, photographers, artists, and activists.
The authors participating in this online exhibition on the theme of encounters play many of these roles. They have already made a fundamental contribution by agreeing to a dialogue with scholars within the framework of the 2017 conference Encounters: Handling, Placing and Looking at Photographs in Relation to Migration, organized by the Max Planck Research Group "Objects in the Contact Zone" and the Photothek del Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence, in cooperation with Villa Romana, Florence. The conversation is continuing, not only with this online exhibition, but also in the International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity which will publish a selection of the papers presented at the conference.
Within the framework of the online exhibition, each author or group was asked to present a series of photographs with captions and a brief introduction. The formats and viewpoints are indeed many, but clearly not exhaustive. This project does not mean to resolve, but rather to promote discussion about, many pressing issues: the methods and channels through which photographs get – or do not get – into circulation; the patrons and their different interests; and certainly, but not lastly, the ethical aspects of showing people and things related to migration.