The revelatory frame: curating the city through art photography

Stara, Alexandra (2007) The revelatory frame: curating the city through art photography. In: Architecture, urbanism & curatorship: 4th annual AHRA international conference; 17 - 18 Nov 2007, Kingston upon Thames, U.K.. (Unpublished)


The contemporary city is a complex structure of historical accumulation and accelerated modern development, engraved and erased over and again through organised construction and destruction, clandestine interventions, hybrid appropriations and everyday use. In order to read the layers of partly erased, mutated, ambiguous and latent qualities which constitute the city, conventional methods of mapping, measuring and analysing are inadequate. Art and its discourses have an important role to play in this context, as a more encompassing medium for engaging with the palimpsest of the city. This paper proposes a discussion of contemporary art photography as a privileged medium for revealing the city’s narrative density, allowing it to be read as an ongoing, poetic dialogue. Through a certain gaze, the city is curated, or ‘takes place’, as a series of frames and fragments which invest as much in what is included as in what is omitted. The paper will focus on artists working with themes of abstraction and absence, and will discuss the particular relevance of these ideas for the representation of complex, contemporary urban conditions.

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