La photographie à contre-courant

06.06 — 27.07.2014

“Against the grain – La photographie à contre-courant” offers a framework for thought that takes Allan Sekula’s field of analysis as a model. It is a heterogeneous collection that recognizes a sociology of photography based on a living language that comes to terms with all photographic images, whether traditional, experimental or conceptual, trying to act on the broadest contexts that can shape it.


“How to take photography against the grain? Allowing the alternating coexistence of roles of the critic, thinking and writing about photography, and the visual artist who takes or uses photographs, difficult as that may be.” Allan Sekula, Photography against the grain 1984

If Californian artists like Allan Sekula, Fred Lonidier and Martha Rosler set about reinventing a documentary form in photography in the early 1970s, they did so in a hybrid way: with Walker Evans and his documentary style, but against the Evans-inspired orthodoxy in the field of the photography used by post-avant-garde artists and with the meanings of the document developed by Conceptual artists. This is how from 2000 on they came to construct works that started to be taken into consideration by a wider public, and are today impossible to ignore.

Young generations of photographers are induced to adapt to a great many different positions and economies. They seize on means that range from the invention of photographic forms, editions, photo/sculpture, video, etc., neglecting the sacrosanct framed print. The exhibition is an interpretation of the contemporary photographic experience as it is undergone and written about today by Swiss and international artist photographers, brought together here for the first time. Their works will be in dialogue with youthful works by Allan Sekula whose critical approach to the practices of representing and informing are at the heart of his work, and hence that of a generation born forty years after him too.

To mark the year when the Centre de la photographie Genève (CPG) is celebrating its 30th anniversary, “Against the grain – la photographie à contre-courant” takes its place in the long line of exhibitions dedicated to new generations of artist photographers staged by the CPG, such as “Quoi de 9/11 photographes de Genève et de la région lémanique” in 2002 “vfg, Prix des Jeunes Talents” in 2010, 2009 and 2008, or indeed “Jeunevois” in 2008. The programming of this new exhibition offers historical perspectives (with the presence of Allan Sekula and Fred Lonidier), and lets the work produced in Geneva, the Lake Geneva region and Alemannic Switzerland resonate with international positions. It is also and primarily an extension of the CPG’s interest in the notions of documentary style and photographic archive. After the exhibition “fALSEfAKES – VRAIFAUXSEMBLANTS” which questioned the documentary quality of the photographic, “Against the grain – la photographie à contre-courant” opens a new chapter with artists born in the 80s who are developing a language that breaks with, yet is attached to documentary practices.


With the generous support of the following partner(s)

Exhibition view

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