TalkSeePhotography April #2

April marks the beginning of TSP’s interrogation of the exhibition by introducing the Swedish Curator Dr Niclas Östlind. Through his PhD, Performing Histories, and exhibitions The Visible and Between Realities, Östlind will take us on a thought provoking journey through the formation of the photographic aesthetic and political representation from 1970 to the present.

The exhibitions he will discuss form spatial and temporal narratives which explicitly examine and map particular shifts that took place in Swedish photography in the decades between the 1970s and 2014.

Östlind’s comprehensive analysis acts as both a mirror and a useful tool for understanding systematic approaches to exhibiting photography. It examines successful efforts to widen the scope of representation as well as the relative inability or unwillingness in institutional frameworks to use the collection to establish this paradigmatic shift. The questions he poses regard the type of photography that was commonly exhibited and the hierarchy of voices given a platform over others. He looks also at how the breaking of documentary conventions allowed decentralised narratives to surface and how these influences altered aesthetic and contextual frameworks and codes.

There are no singular conclusions in this story. The strength of Östlind’s narrative is to view the developments from multiple perspectives and to write a history which is critically useful for reflection, both for audiences and professionals alike. Finally, it also establishes the exhibitions’ (despite their ephemeral quality) magnificent ability to transform, disrupt and engender debate.

Dr Niclas Östlind teaches at Valand Academy in Gothenburg Sweden. He has curated a number of significant shows that have been exhibited at amongst other places Hasselblad and Artipelag and is a significant contributor to the circumstances around the development of Swedish contemporary photography.