Photography is currently going through a period of change. However, it is not just the digital revolution that is changing the way photos are taken and the technology that is used and broadening possibilities, the global data space itself has become a new resource. Despite all the digitalisation, the method of producing a unique analogue photograph remains an option. Aesthetics and the way photos are 'staged' are changing. Migration and globalisation are new themes. The 'new photographers' have a different perspective on the history of photography. They have new heroes; heroes that come from history and from other disciplines. They are no longer afraid of the aural and the sublime. And they are open to new forms of presentation, to installations, to a blend of media and materials. Photography, so it would seem, has at last arrived in the free arts.
'The future does not belong to pure photography, but to the free arts,' says Andreas Gursky, one of the »advistors« of the "State of the Art Photography" exhibition. The NRW-Forum Düsseldorf asked for photographers who are tipped to be the movers and the shakers in this field in the coming years. In an attempt to reflect this remit, each of the 40 artists/photographers who feature in this summary exhibition is represented by a collection of images or an installation.
A tour of the 40 exhibits makes it clear, for example, that while photography is currently experiencing a renaissance of classical themes such as landscape or portrait photography, the objective and the focus have shifted.
Notwithstanding their technical creation, they hark back to an art form where it was permissible to submerge oneself in the image and the landscape. At the same time, they point to the fact that perception can be influenced by memories, ideas, and emotions.
Many approaches could be referred to as 'academic' or 'scientific', research into the traces of humanity, the biographies of young people, or brain imaging ... these photographs are comparable with the results produced by a scientist or a researcher; they are of high documentary value, yet at the same time do not deny their aesthetic dimension. Sanna Kannisto's work, for example, is based on biological studies.
The photographers were proposed by Andreas Gursky, Thomas Weski, Klaus Biesenbach, Udo Kittelmann, FC Gundlach, Thomas Seelig, Andrea Holzherr, and Werner Lippert. They hail from America, Europe, and South Africa; other continents and cultural spaces will be addressed at a later date.
In a unique co-operation between the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, the book 'State of the Art Photography' has been published by feymedia to coincide with the exhibition. In this book, 6 pages are dedicated to each of the 40 international artists and include biographies, bibliographies, and illustrations of their work. The 264-page book is an independent, multilingual hardcover publication aimed at people who want to know today what is going to be the next big thing in art and photography tomorrow.
'State of the Art Photography' is exhibited at NRW-Forum Düsseldorf from 4 February to 6 May 2012.