1922 University Avenue. Madison WI. 53726


Wednesday, April 7, 2010


SFMOMA has been collecting and exhibiting photographs since the museum's founding in 1935 and is dedicated to the examination of the medium in all its forms. This major symposium on the current state of the field is the first in a series of public programs on photography. The texts below reflect the initial responses of 13 invited participants to the symposium's central question: Is photography over? The discussion begun here will continue on April 22 and 23, when the participants will convene at SFMOMA for a series of public and private conversations on the current state of the medium.
Phyllis Wattis Theater
Thursday, April 22, 7:00 p.m.
Friday, April 23, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Photography has almost always been in crisis. In the beginning, the terms of this crisis were cast as dichotomies: is photography science or art? Nature or technology? Representation or truth? This questioning has intensified and become more complicated over the intervening years. At times, the issues have required a profound rethinking of what photography is, does, and means. This is one of those times. Given the nature of contemporary art practice, the condition of visual culture, the advent of new technologies, and many other factors, what is at stake today in seeing something as a photograph? What is the value of continuing to speak of photography as a specific practice or discipline? Is photography over?

SFMOMA has invited a range of major thinkers and practitioners to write
brief responses to this question and then to convene for a two-day summit on the state of the medium. Participants include Vince Aletti, George Baker, Walead Beshty, Jennifer Blessing, Charlotte Cotton, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Geoff Dyer, Peter Galassi, Corey Keller, Douglas Nickel, Trevor Paglen, Blake Stimson, and Joel Snyder.
Their texts will be used to kick off a panel discussion Thursday night. The 13 participants will continue the conversation Friday morning in closed-door sessions and will report back in a public session Friday afternoon.

Please note that here are several ways to engage with this event apart from attending the public panel discussions.  In addition to reading the panelists' answer to the question "Is photography over?" here, additonal responses to this question, as well as a lively discussion during and after the symposium, will be posted on SFMOMA's blog.  

The Museum also  hopes to make a recording of the event available on their website, and a print-on-demand publication sampling some of the symposium's findings will be forthcoming. 

PICTURED ABOVE: Unknown Untitled [Man reflected in mirrors], n.d.; photograph; gelatin silver print; Collection SFMOMA, Gift of Gordon L. Bennett