Curator Efrem Zelony-Mindell on why he doesn’t trust photography

Bol - Buduma, from the series Chronicles of the Lake Chad Basin, 2017, Benedicte Kurzen

Published as part of the featured project

Chronicles of the Lake Chad Basin by Bénédicte Kurzen

How photography combines what is perceived and what is possible into a medium that has no obligation to uphold the truth.

I don’t want you to think I trust photography. I don’t. It is the guilty arbiter of reproduction that Socrates warned us about. Maps forge possibilities for new paths; whereas to follow the specifics of cartography as a tracing tool suggests there is no room for new paths of exploration. Sewn into the very nature of the history of the camera is a tracing tool. Inside this mistrust of reality is a space awakening for play and revelation. This exuberant fact makes it adored. Its necessity reflects the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community. The camera sees in degrees of fluidity. Its ability to combine what is perceived and what is possible can bewilder the eyes of those who look. I don’t believe that the tool has some necessity or obligation to uphold the truth. Only in the hands of humbled makers can the faithfulness of the medium be exposed in a variety of ways.

Landscape Ad 02, from the series How Things Dream - Morpheus, 2017, DISCIPULA

The conviction of the camera to the complexities of reality is burgeoned by designs and patterns of structures. There is an endless list of systems and plans and physiology that is fastened to the embodiment and nobility of the works from Discipula, Bénédicte Kurzen, Rafal Milach, Mustafa Saeed, Bryan Schutmaat, Nadine Stijns, and Henk Wildschut. There’s an awful lot of ichor coursing the veins of this photography. The surge of things happening across the world is an overwhelmed madness of curious articulation. Dreams are all framed for those who want to play. Facts are prayed away, but what remains stands on this earth waiting to be seen. The grounds to run are the same as where the human form is grown. There is no need for repent when ownership relays all the hopeful reliability of individuals. Things are what they are, but they are told in many ways.

The blooms of these artists surface the face of an elaborate global society. The responsibility of the reasons to document mankind is up to these users. The functionality of the medium as message has the potential of immediacy. Foreign narratives are brought to lands and minds that otherwise would never have access, by way of photography. An image is a powerful tool of voice, rebellion, and commitment. With Discipula, Kurzen, Milach, Saeed, Schutmaat, Stijns, and Wildschut an elaborate web of record meets concept. Seeing the interaction between what can be read as factual and conceptual is a fascinating journey into the usages and expectations of photography as well as the human interactions they question. Regardless of fault, the fact is what festers in the perished topography of our world is the ability to sustain. The camera awakens the fact that it can reproduce what stands before it. As viewers we can see the effects of the choices that others and ourselves make on the places we call home.

Untitled from the series Good God Damn, 2018 by Bryan Schutmaat

04, from the series Nearly Every Rose on the Barriers in Front of the Parliament, 2017, Rafał Milach


04, from the series Nearly Every Rose on the Barriers in Front of the Parliament, 2017, Rafał Milach

Forms of emotion play on varying motifs and execution. Discipula, Rafal Milach, and Mustafa Saeed introduce the abstract into the reality of their imagery by way of collage, construction, and concept, and then there are Bénédicte Kurzen, Bryan Schutmaat, Nadine Stijns, and Henk Wildschut who create the story their imagery tells by recognising the environment and what needs keeping in the frame. With all the differences in the world, like in these photographs, it’s so rewarding to see how they come together. It starts so simply – colour, light, design, the form of a figure, and the shape of the land. These things sing songs to what photography is best at. It capitalises on the familiar and allows the uncanny to enter. It is a seamless metaphor for how people make the day – everyday – theirs. We are articulated by the paths we choose. We enable ourselves to seek out the things we desire and we fight for the belief that we want to live together.

Wisest persons know that they know nothing. Blank slates call to arms the possibilities of intuition and genuine humanity. The design of photography is locked in the landscape of the kinds of random beauty the world is capable of. Artists listen, pry, eavesdrop, and care. The heart is deceitful, but the pains of desire are true to the things that individuals hold close. Realities flourish when there are minds that wish to inquire. Allowing photography to speak to, or on behalf of, humanity is rife with uncertainty. The ability for imagery to embellish a story or to awaken an idea is pivotal. Poetry lives in the emblazoned connections between photographs, their maker’s intentions, and the subjects of images. Society will transform; the ability and uses of photography will fold into these possibilities and allow new ideas and forms of communication. Outcomes will change, but the urge to capture and create what is set before a camera won’t. It will be searched, it will be studied, and through photography the world will be exposed.

Curator, writer and artist Efrem Zelony-Mindell’s endeavors include curating shows in New York City; newflesh, Are You Loathsome, Familiar Strange, and This Is Not Here. His writings on art have appeared in DEAR DAVE, VICE, SPOT, Musée Magazine, Rocket Science Magazine amongst numerous others. Efrem received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts. Image by Landon Speers.

1 from the series Cornered Energies 2017 Mustafa Saeed

4 from the series The Anarchist Citizenship 2018 Nadine Stijns

Published as part of the featured project:

Selected by
T J Boulting,
London, United Kingdom

Driven by a desire to reveal the turbulent history of The Lake Chad Basin in Africa, Bénédicte tells untold stories of the region and its people with empathy and compassion.

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