Participation in Photography: Memory, Archives and

'My Grandma' – Diana Garcia, 2011

'Participation in Photography: Memory, Archives and Authorship' took place on the 12th October 2012. The symposium was part of Urban Photo Fest London, that took place from 4th -13th October 2012 in partnership with CUCR, Goldsmiths, University of London, Tate Britain, British Library, Urban Encounters, Kingston University, Fotosynthesis, FOTO8, London Independent Photography, Birkbeck, University of London, Gasket and iAVU.

Eighty people attended the symposium, which explored the social, political and ethical implications of participation and authorship in urban photography. The aim of the event was to discover how photographers and artists collaborate and interact with people when making photographic projects in world cities. The symposium included two panel discussions, film screenings, slide shows and audio-visual presentations of international photography projects exploring collaboration, memory, photographic archives and authorship.

Panel one chaired by David Kendall from the Centre for Urban and Community Research, Goldsmiths, University of London introduced the social, political and ethical implications of participation and authorship in urban photography practice. Speakers Ingrid Guyon and Valentina Schivardi (Fotosynthesis), Tiffany Fairey, Matt Daw (PhotoVoice), Aubrey Wade (Panos) and Ania Dabrowska presented projects and visual research that explored how photographers could participate, collaborate and socially interact with people when making photographic projects in cities. The panel discussed the consensual and contradictory outcomes of communal interaction and how collaborative practices may challenge and influence political opinion and social policy in urban life.

Films, slide shows and audio-visual presentations of international photography projects exploring collaboration, memory and authorship were screened during the day. Including the work of Ph 15, Zaneta Szelazek, Andrés Borda-González, Rebecca Locke, Daniel Almoril, Ojos que Sienten, Diana Garcia, Luis M. Jara, Ed Beron, Agata Cardoso, Valentina Schivardi, Eva Sajovic and Rebecca Davies, Briony Campbell and Duncan Nicol Robertson, Shreyasi Kar, Goa Cap, Ian Buswell and Arnau Oriol, P Madhavan, Nelsi Manrique and IngridGuyon.

Panel two chaired by Abbas Nokhasteh from Openvizor explored how political institutions use historical photographs of daily life to visualise, commemorate and create specific social histories, public memories and pictorial archives. Speakers Oliver Chanarin, Laura Cuch (Goldsmiths, University of London), Liz Hingley, Annalisa Sonzogni (Kingston University), Magda Fabianczyk, David Kendall (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Dr. Moustafa Traoré (Sorbonne University) discussed how photographers and artists could utilise 'memory' and work with inhabitants to generate or appropriate photographic archives in cities. The panel presentations and audience Q & A explored the complex ethical implications of collaboration and the social and political products produced by this form of photography practice.


Photo: Valentina Schivardi

Comments / quotes from participants and audience:

“ Congratulations on putting on such a fantastic event. The range of speakers was very impressive, and it worked very well having a community-based event combined with an international line-up and audience. It would be great if Fotosynthesis were to become a regular partner in Urban Photo Fest which we plan to expand next year with a number of other international venues involved. It's important that the festival aims to be inclusive and reflect the breadth of urban photography, and your event reflected this very well”. – Paul Halliday, curator, Urban Photo Fest

“ The day was an intensive opportunity to reflect on my practice, and to discus some ideas within my work. I found it useful to hear the other speakers explain their own methodologies in such depth, especially hearing about their own decision making processes when working on participatory projects.There were also some challenging questions from the public, which was particularly valuable feedbackon the current project I am working on”. – Magdalena Fabianczyk, artist

“ I think it was a great day. I really enjoyed it. All the speakers were really interesting and raised some interesting points that I'm still mulling over in my head. I really loved the hotel employees’ photography project shot by Zaneta Szelazek. She's very talented!”. – Diana More


Photo: Ingrid Guyon

“ I consider these kinds of events are relevant, they reveal the body and soul of organizations, people and participatory photography projects, which are not always visible. When working with diverse communities I like to think of the words, ‘common-unity’. Simple stories are the real world, a touchable world, found in everyday life, the life without superheroes”. – Nelsi Manrique, photographer and sociologist

“ I can say that Urban Photo Fest was a great opportunity for me to listen and learn about new and diverse artists’ projects and to re-evaluate the huge importance thatphotography has always had for me in social and educational contexts. The symposium was an amazing opportunity that pushed me to look into my old archives and to produce and present a new project that otherwise would remain abandoned on my hard drive. Congratulations! Thank you so much for an amazing day! ” – Luis M. Jara, filmmaker and photographer