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EDITORIAL - 2020: the beginnings of a new era

EDITORIAL – 2020: the beginnings of a new era

As New Year is just around the corner, Blind detects three major phenomenons that will play out over the next decade

Act 1: A Forgotten Continent Comes Out of the Shadows

A little bird has told us that in 2020 a major photography event is going to focus on Africa and African photographers. While nothing is set in stone, the African continent will, in any case, be at the center of numerous cultural happenings in France. It is hard to hide the fact that Africa’s photographic creation is at the forefront of the contemporary art scene: only a few weeks ago the Côte d’Ivoire photographer Johanna Choumali won the Prix Pictet, one of the most prestigious photography awards. The Brooklyn Museum in New York is currently preparing an exhibition of African art, while the South African photographer Zanele Muholi is getting ready to fill the galleries of Tate Modern in London and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. At the same time, the work of an eighty-year-old African photographer recently featured on our pages was the subject of a stunning re-discovery. Having attracted attention at the Contemporary African Art Fair last fall, Papami has an exhibition coming up in Tel Aviv in 2020. The buzz surrounding African art is a clear sign of transformations taking place in the world of photography. Previously under-represented in the cultural marketplace, African creation is now enjoying growing recognition, signaling the changing times.

Act 2: More and more images shared

2020 will also mark Instagram’s tenth anniversary. Created in October 2010, this platform now has over a billion users who share some 100 million photos and videos daily. Instagram has become an indispensable showcase and a go-to toolbox for many photographers, both amateur and professional. This phenomenon is of such significance that it has attracted the attention of art institutions. Last year, an exhibition at the SFMOMA examined the circulation of images on social networks. In 2020, the Jeu de Paume in Paris will in turn analyze the visual overload in our society in an exhibition entitled The Supermarket of Images.  At a time of ecological crisis, however, the latter is questioning its consumption model: another challenge for photographers. 

Act 3: Control, Surveillance, Identification… A Revolution is Coming 

Initiated by Alphonse Bertillon at the beginning of the 20th century, identity and forensic photography is in full mutation. Recent developments in artificial intelligence have led to highly effective facial recognition techniques. In China, it has invaded daily life, in the United States it worries, in France one wonders. A phenomenon which in any case does not escape the notice of the creators and in particular the photographers who use it to question our society: the Russian Egor Tsvetkov, the American Trevor Paglen, the duo Broomberg & Chanarin or the Finnish Miia Autio. All of them have developed a personal and critical work on these upheavals, pointing out in particular for some of them the drift that this new practice could constitute by diminishing the freedom of citizens.

All these areas of interest show that photography is transforming with the speed of light. Keeping its finger on the pulse of change, Blind invites to take the time and try to understand the bigger picture. Through original reports and articles that decode unfolding phenomena in the world of images and identify new trends and initiatives, we give you a comprehensive view, while letting photographers and their images speak for themselves.

By Coline Olsina & Jean-Baptiste Gauvin

© Bashar Alaeddin

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