In Context
The Portrait in Contemporary Photographic Practice
February 1 — July 21, 2014

Robert Knight
Assistant Professor of Art
Hamilton College

Exhibition Catalogue



Includes work by Magali Corouge, Chris de Bode, Laura El-Tantawy, Ulrich Gebert, Jim Goldberg, Mishka Henner, Tom Hunter, Alfredo Jaar, Sharon Lockhart, Taryn Simon, Alec Soth, and Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse

In Context brings together conceptual artists whose practices address an underlying sociopolitical agenda as well as photojournalists and social documentarians who utilize conceptual strategies to subjectively shape the portraits they create. The convergence of these approaches yields work that carefully balances aesthetic and political goals to frame important social issues in a contemporary manner. The work presented reflects the realities of a diminishing market within mainstream media outlets for social documentary photography and the simultaneous rise of a ‘social turn’ on the part of conceptual artists.

With the advent of the Conceptual art movement in the 1960s, the distinctions between fine art and documentary photography began to blur. The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in works that straddle these traditional genre definitions. Perhaps due to its inherently subjective quality, this has been particularly true within the genre of portraiture. This exhibition examines the diversity of contemporary approaches to socially concerned photography while raising important questions about the nature of contemporary photographic practice and the validity of traditional genre definitions.

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Exhibition Video