When images take care

27.08 — 15.09.2024

Vernissage: 26.08.2024 18:00

LIEU/VENUE: LE COMMUN (10 RUE DES VIEUX-GRENADIERS, 1205 GENÈVE)

Bringing together the works of around twenty Swiss and international artists and photographers, When Images Take Care explores the ways in which image-making can become a form of caring – caring for oneself and for others, for one's community and its histories. Among the many forms and meanings that the relationship between care and images can take, the exhibition specifically looks at the equally intimate and universal issues of grief and mourning, the tenderness of family relationships as well as its silences, and social issues of visibility and representation through the reclaiming of one's own history and the creation of activist images.

By exploring the many ways in which the creation of an image can be seen as an act of caring for oneself or for others, the exhibition affirms the power of the photographic image as a means of empowerment and emancipation, thanks to its capacity to both document and transform one's own situation, identity, history and narrative.

The first part of the exhibition focuses on the role of images in the construction of individual, intimate and family narratives, often linked to bereavement and loss or to disappearance, secrecy, illness, and disability. Here, care is situated in narratives crafted with images, narratives to make sense of one’s experience in all its complexity, difficulty and sometimes brutality. Photography allows to express grief and confusion, vulnerability and doubt, but also tenderness, gentleness, attachment and grace. At times, it portrays sublimity and a form of serenity. Other times, it reveals frustration, failure, and the impossibility of making sense and of reconciliation. There is often something fragile and delicate about the works brought together in the exhibition. They embrace their vulnerability, laying bare the contradictory emotions of human relationships. The image is at once witness to a particular moment in the process of assimilating and making sense of lived experience and a vehicle to share it. By touching on major experiences of the human condition, these individual narratives possess a strong evocative power and invite us to a reflective and contemplative experience of caring in all its tenderness and preoccupation.

The second part of the exhibition is dedicated primarily to exploring the power of photography in crafting and reclaiming collective narratives. This section looks at the notion of caring through the visibility and representation of certain communities, and their links with forms of activism. Particular attention is paid to social and civic movements in Switzerland, notably against racism, homophobia, and sexism, and to the militant and documentary dimensions that images can assume in these contexts. In the present day, photography can be used in the dissemination of collective stories and civic movements, often playing an integral role in shaping collective memory and documenting histories. Alongside these more resolutely political uses of photography, other projects make visibility, and the overturning of preconceived ideas about certain groups or experiences, a matter of care. Here, the image is mobilised for its representational power, but also for its capacity to restore a certain form of empowerment owing to its ability to engender nontraditional forms of kinship and affiliation through experiences of community joy and social struggle.

The exhibition is part of the Swiss Photomonth programme, which runs from 30 August to 6 October 2024.

Image: Soumya Sankar Bose, A Discreet Exit through Darkness