Collaborative Change

PhotoIreland Festival: Collaborative Change

Symposium · Photo Collectives · Featured Exhibition · Curatorial Teams


Collaborative efforts in the world of photography seem to respond to times of change. Magnum Photos, the classic example of a photographic co-operative, was founded in 1947;
it is now the most prestigious photographic agency in the world. Ostkreuz, its smaller German
cousin, was formed in East Berlin in 1990, just one year after the fall of Wall. The main purpose
of these agencies was, and to a certain extent still is, to protect its members’ copyright and to promote them in the magazine and publishing market.

Of late we have seen the rise of another collaborative form – photographic collectives. These collectives concentrate on the collaborative process by organising workshops, group exhibitions, and collective projects. They publish and maintain collective websites and share equipment. But this is just the modus operandi, not the lead objective. They see the collective approach as an alternative economic model, a sustainable principle of (art) production, where process, experience, authorship, responsibility and success are shared. They believe that this model has serious advantages in the current context of local and global crises. Some festivals and centres have already responded to this new trend by inviting collectives to meet, debate, and show their work. For example, E.CO 2010 invited 20 photographic collectives from Europe and Latin America to their event in Spain, and the Format Festival in Derby will host its second Collectives Encounter in 2011.

Collaborative Change Symposium

Collaborative Change?

Collaborative Change ? – Commons, Networks, Exchange

Thursday 14th July, Wood Quay Venue, Dublin 2

This symposium, co-organized by PhotoIreland and GradCAM and supported by the City Arts Office, Dublin City Council, investigates the implications of emergent models of collaborative production, consumption, and ownership for the future of cultural work, education and economic activity.

Where existing models of commons, collaboration, exchange and networks have a long history in the construction and maintenance of community e.g. meitheal, housing and agriculture cooperatives, credit unions, artists’ communities, etc., these are extended and made complex by new models of production emerging through a range of loosely and tightly woven collectives and communities of interest like crowdsourcing, user-generated content, grass roots media and their attendant practices.

The aim of the day is to frame these developments in the context of a new urgency in the wake of economic collapse and discuss what they mean for the future of cultural work, education, local and alternative economic initiatives. Featuring a number of local and international speakers made up of artists and theorists, activists and commentators from visual arts and media, education, political activism and alternative economics. These include: Michel Bauwens; Branka Ćurčić,; Renee Ridgway; Patrick Bresnihan; Nicolas Malevé; Adrian Rodriguez; Aebhric Coleman,; Andrew Hetherington; Gergely Laszlo, and Claudi Carreras.

Two things mark our moment, arguably. The crisis in public finances and the debts burdened on citizens of a Europe whose currency is under threat from predatory markets and whose banking systems are failing. And this arrives with the ascendancy of a network society and economy whose impacts are becoming more apparent as we enter the second decade of the twenty first century. Aside from the political upheavals and the justifiable anger manifest in street protests, there have been other responses to the catastrophe in the form of a renaissance in earlier practices to moments of crises; practices of sharing, collaborating, lending and bartering. Equally, there has been a resurgence in civil society activism, community organization and political grassroots movements seeking to renew and rethink the ties that bind us together and new forms of affiliation. And this is happening when peer-to-peer and social networks, creative commons, open source, ‘the crowd’ are all heralded as new paradigms of possibility.

The disputes around the public and private ownership and control of knowledge and culture that marked the last decade have thrown the commons to the forefront of public debate. Platforms based on participatory and commons-oriented paradigms appear to absorb the social, the economic and the cultural as the network becomes the new space of the polis or at least its organizational base to a point where social networks are now attributed to instigating revolutions (if that is what they are) in the Maghreb and Middle East. More broadly, it would seem that sharing is now a public virtue with movements within the academy towards open-access and open-source seek to develop new modes of scholarly dissemination and sharing of knowledge. In addition, the practice of sharing source code is increasingly applied to realms beyond its origins in computer science and software development. There are initiatives where cooperation and sharing are the basis for new economic models and alternatives to the market primarily in terms of resources and sustainability. Equally visible for decades now in the art-world, are collectives built on a sustainable principle of production, where process, experience, authorship, responsibility and success are shared.

However, what is the value and meaning of these ideas, values and principles at a moment where they both contain the possibility of change and transformation but at the same are becoming the very means and terms for the marketisation and colonization of the social. What is at stake here? How should we negotiate these contradictions ?

This one-day event engages these questions and debates them in the context of crises and responses to the crises from within and outside the cultural field. It brings together artists, activists, organizers and thinkers from different international contexts and experience to consider and think through these issues, to reflect on precedents and models in operation, to exchange, examine and discuss.

Photo Collectives

Featured Exhibition

History of Disappearance by The Franklin Furnace, New York

Live Art from New York 1975-Present.
Work selected from the Archives of Franklin Furnace

History of Disappearance examines how institutions can play a role in relation to the practice of live or performance art, and the importance of recording and preserving this art form. The exhibition offers a rare opportunity to view documentation of a diverse collection of live art works from the fertile time in avant-garde art history during the 1970s, the politically volatile time of the 1980s, through to artists’ use of the Internet as a platform in the new millenium.
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Curatorial Teams