Magnum Photos: One Archive, Three Views
For the first time in its history, the iconic photography agency Magnum has opened its London office's resin print archive to three contemporary practitioners. Guided by the former Magnum Photos archivist Nick Galvin, historian and anthropologist Elizabeth Edwards, photographer Hannah Starkey and artist Uriel Orlow were invited to reinterpret how social, cultural and political inclinations have shaped the content of the archive.
Edwards, Starkey and Orlow chose 130 rarely seen photographs from68,000 prints, which collectively present an imperfect history of photography from 1940 - 2000. Edwards addresses how the experiences of people and their engagement with the world are inscribed in the photograph. Starkey's interest is in how the female perspective has resulted in a narrative linked across the decades, and Orlow teases out the blind spots of history in the margins of crisis.
Twenty-seven photographers whose work is presented in the exhibition include Abbas, Eve Arnold, Rene Burri, Elliott Erwitt, Stuart Franklin, Leonard Freed, David Hurn, Peter Marlow, Inge Morath, Martin Parr, Chris Steele-Perkins and David "Chim" Seymour.
Starkey’s interest arises from the female perspective and how work is subsequently engendered; Edwards investigates narrative gaps and absent histories, while Orlow teases out pictorial associations.
Starkey’s interest in the female perspective and how work is subsequently engendered has resulted in an intimate narrative linked across the decades in photographs including Eve Arnold’s Self-portrait, 42nd Street, New York City, 1950 and Leonard Freed’s Women’s Liberation March in NYC, 1970. Her selection is chosen from a period in Magnum’s history when women accounted for only five per cent of the photographers they represented.
Orlow’s interdisciplinary practice teases out the blindspots of history in the margins of crisis. His installation for the exhibition explores the materiality of the archive presenting juxtapositions of images that though they depict vastly different events, have strong visual relations, and include Philip Jones Griffiths’s Marines landing on beach, Danang, Vietnam, 1970 and Rene Burri’s Craters left by US bombing raids along the Cambodian border from their bases in South Vietnam, 1973
Edwards has approached the archive by asking, ’how are the experiences of people, their engagement with the world in which they find themselves, inscribed in the photograph?’. The images she has chosen are of people absorbed in their worlds, internalising its possibilities and making sense of that experience, often those in which the action lies beyond the frame as in Carl de Keyzer’s Ladbroke’s Betting Shop, 1991 and Martin Parr’s Rusholme,Manchester, England, 1972
One Archive, Three Views is the first time the resin coated print archive has formed the basis of a curated exhibition.
The archive presents a snapshot in time, an imperfect history, and the selectors have worked individually and jointly to look beneath the mythology of Magnum.
A Photoworks, Magnum Photos and De La Warr Pavilion Co-commission for Brighton Photo Biennial 2014.
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