Acts of Resistance

Photography, Feminism and the Art of Protest

Exhibition review by Max Houghton

Acts of Resistance, a collaborative exhibition by the South London Gallery and V&A Parasol Foundation for Women in Photography, confronts the systemic brutalisation and circumscription of women’s bodies worldwide — from persecution in Bangladesh, oppression in India to solidarity with Palestinian freedom. As Max Houghton writes, this is not a show for performative activists; it’s really doing the work — the exhibition fosters a reparative gaze, challenging historical narratives of control and subjugation, and calling for greater community involvement and institutional accountability. 

Max Houghton | Exhibition review | 4 Apr 2024

Even before entering Acts of Resistance: Photography, Feminism and the Art of Protest, a curatorial collaboration between South London Gallery and V&A Parasol Foundation for Women in Photography, the content guidance reveals the show’s necessity: ‘Artwork in this exhibition includes references to […] sexual violence, femicide, female genital mutilation, gender and sexuality-based discrimination, genocide and racism.’ This short institutional statement tells us precisely how the world is structured and how the bodies of women+ are circumscribed and brutalised, deliberately and systematically. Stepping in, the first visible work, suspended from the ceiling, takes gentle possession of the viewer, who is immediately enfolded into the plaited hair of young Iranian women. Three larger-than-life prints by Hoda Afshar are responding to Iran’s Women Life Freedom movement with the symbolism of unveiled hair, of the plait’s own revolutionary turn, or pichesh-e-moo, and of the dove’s flight between peace and martyrdom. The death of Mahasa Amini at the hands of Iran’s morality police weighs heavily, as does the courage of the women who protest, risking their own lives. My thoughts turn too to the immorality and illegality of the Metropolitan Police on this city’s streets; to the lives and legacies of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, of Sarah Everard, of Chris Kaba; and to what kind of imaging or imagining might bring justice to them.

The first message, then, of the show’s images is that they open a space within which such global ultraviolence can be considered, resisted and perhaps – rarely – extinguished. Two artists whose works are curated close by, Poulomi Basu and Sofia Karim, are committed activists, whose work has given rise to legal change. Basu’s multimedia work and its dissemination contributed to the banning of Chapaudi in Nepal, a practice which sees girls and women banished from society during menstruation; left to inhabit unlit, unsanitary temporary huts, at risk of assault in remote fields.

Karim’s activism was ignited by the political imprisonment and subsequent torture of her uncle, the renowned photojournalist Shahidul Alam, in Bangladesh. Like human rights activist G. N. Saibaba, for whom she has also campaigned through her exquisite drawings and letter exchange, Alam was eventually released. Karim’s work, Turbine Bagh (2020–ongoing), resonates in any setting, though in a night at the museum, it would surely leap off its designated shelf and populate a central artery through the space. Significantly, it is the only work in the show that foregrounds the art of other activists, which Karim has transferred onto samosa packets, conferring an increased sense of sociality and hospitality within these acts of resistance. For this show, whilst works centring women’s experience have been selected, in terms of anti-rape protests in Bangladesh or Muslim girls’ right to wear a hijab in Karnataka, India, Karim’s feminism also insists upon exposing the cruelties of the caste system via a Dalit protest in Una, and the Kerala Sisterhood’s support for Palestinian freedom. From her series Sisters of the Moon (2022), Basu’s futuristic self-portraits pool, siren-like, across the gallery walls, seducing the viewer into uncertain territory, incanting through their worldly knowledge the names of pain. The spectral image of Basu on a bed, uncannily placed at the shore’s edge, alongside water urns, invites questions of refuge, of sanctuary, of survival, and helped raise £5million for WaterAid.

This is not a show for performative activists; it’s really doing the work. Three major London institutions have curated feminist/activist shows in the past year; a welcome and vital taking up of art space by, for and with women+. This outpouring of activist-propelled art, in terms, for example, of the vast scale of Re/Sisters (2023) at the Barbican and Tate’s Women in Revolt! (2024), or the geographical breadth of Acts of Resistance, is indicative of the fact that such shows are long overdue, and we have so much to say. I say this in the year the Royal Academy offered its first ever solo show to a female artist, Marina Abramovic, in its 250-year history.[i]

This show has taken the idea of the “fourth wave” feminism of the last decade as its timeframe, which is at once necessary to fit the available space, ensures intersectional and expansive feminisms – a plurality noted in the show’s subtitle – and yet misses the chance to visually connect these present concerns through time. Such legacies are not, however, absent. The show’s first section, “Body as Battleground”, is essentially a dedication to Barbara Kruger, whose own solo show at the Serpentine took place earlier this year. The legacy of the Saint of Christopher Street gay liberation campaigner and trans activist Marsha P. Johnson is enshrined in Happy Birthday Marsha! (2018) by Tourmaline and Sasha Wortzel, which reimagines the night of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, when, yet again, the role of the police as guardians of the most vulnerable is found entirely wanting. The way Johnson inhabited her personal freedom was revolutionary; achingly beautifully rendered in this short film, in what Saidiya Hartman might call a ‘critical fabulation’, in which historical or archival omissions of a life are reconstructed. This work occupies the emotional heart of the show, along with that of Aida Silvestri’s Unsterile Clinic (2015). By any measure, this is an astonishingly visceral work, on a subject no one but no one wants to talk about, yet is transformed by the artist’s loving hands into artworks of such grace, they turn silence into speech. Drawing on her own experience of female genital mutilation, she has been able to work collaboratively with other similarly-affected women to visualise the different forms the procedure has taken, creating models, on display here in a vitrine, which are now used for identification – over 200 million women and girls are affected globally – by the NHS in the UK. The work also takes the form of a single, non-identifying self-portrait, in which the artist wears a wedding dress, embellished with razor blades in place of pearls, and embroidered red thread, flowing beyond the frame. The image pulsates with the injustice of the religious and social construct of virginity and every act of violence it has engendered.

I unite these two specific works in the strongest spirit of the right to self-determination – and its frequent absence – which courses throughout the exhibition. Of the two vital works on the subject of abortion, in this instance, I would have selected Winant’s The Last Safe Abortion (2023) for the light it sheds on the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in the US, and invited Laia Abril to show her work On Rape (2020–ongoing), or Femicides (2019–ongoing), as another bloody framing for the show as a whole. Yet, as always with her meticulously researched work, Abril’s situating of abortion as a global institutional failure bristles with eloquent rage. The last time I wrote about Nan Goldin’s Memory Lost, the V&A was still funded by Sackler, a position it reversed in 2022; the result of a sustained campaign by Goldin and PAIN, which included a die-in at the museum, indicting the creators of Oxycontin, the highly addictive opioid, for their life-destroying crimes. Goldin’s way of being in the (art) world – she has been called a “harm reductionist”, surely an aspirational epithet – is propelled by honesty, and, I can’t say it too often, by love. The wrong things, she says, are kept secret. They still are, and the shame that encircles such secrecy kills with the same violence as a blade or a gun.

Much of the work in this ground-breaking show pierces such shame with love, and Raphaela Rosella’s work HOMEtruths (2022) explodes with love and care for and with a First Nations community in New South Wales, Australia. This entirely unsentimental, joyful, heart-breaking, polyvocal three-screen film shows the effects of the incarceration of women on them and their families. Part of a wider work, You’ll Know It When You Feel It (2012–ongoing), Rosella’s co-creational approach resists, intervenes in and often completely overturns juridical and bureaucratic representation and replaces it with rich familial bonds in a form of justice, both aesthetic and restorative, which is exceptionally deeply felt.

In terms of the photographic image, these artists are pushing the discipline forward, far from its histories of control and subjugation. In their hands, we encounter sculptural, filmic, archival, collaged and embroidered forms, which make for multi-sensory ways of seeing, decentring the camera’s power; a reparative gaze. Questions for the next shows foregrounding women+, no doubt already in production, include how to understand the gallery as even more of a forum, involving more community groups and building on existing links with brilliant but underfunded and therefore precarious local resources. How can the institutions that fail us, that maim, that kill, be further held publicly accountable via image-led or art-based discussion? How can artists whose practice isn’t defined within the confines of socially engaged practice in and of itself expand the social purpose of their work in a gallery space? And how can the white Western female curatorial approach, expansive and assiduous as it surely is, in terms of Sarah Allen and Fiona Rogers, as well as Alona Pardo and Linsey Young – brava to all – continue to find ways to share its considerable power ever more effectively? Not because it isn’t showing us the most pertinent, mind-expanding, courageous work, not because it isn’t taking great care of the people who make it, but because of what it – and I – just can’t see.♦

All images courtesy South London Gallery

Acts of Resistance: Photography, Feminism and the Art of Protest, with a public programme curated by Lola Olufemi, runs at South London Gallery until 9 June 2024.

Max Houghton is a writer, curator and editor working with the photographic image as it intersects with politics and law. She runs the MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, where she is also co-founder of the research hub Visible Justice. Her writing appears in publications by The Photographers’ Gallery and Barbican Centre, as well press such as Granta, The Eyes, Foam, 1000 Words, British Journal of Photography and Photoworks. She is co-author, with Fiona Rogers, of Firecrackers: Female Photographers Now (Thames and Hudson, 2017) and her latest monograph essay appears in Mary Ellen Mark: Ward 81 Voices (Steidl, 2023). She is undertaking doctoral research into the image and law at University College London and is the 2023 recipient of the Royal Photographic Society award for education. 


[i] I say this in a year when the police force with responsibility for London remains institutionally sexist, racist and homophobic. I say this when two women this week, as every week, will be killed in the UK by the hands of their partner or former partner. I say this on a day when the US abstained from the UN vote for a ceasefire in Gaza, where sexual violence is being frequently reported as a weapon of war.


1-Hoda Afshar, Untitled #14 from the series In Turn, 2023. © Hoda Afshar. Image courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery, Meeanjin / Brisbane.

2-Sethembile Msezane, Chapungu – The Day Rhodes Fell, 2015. Photo: Courtesy the artist

3-Tourmaline and Sasha Wortzel, Happy Birthday Marsha!, 2018. Courtesy the artists and Chapter NY, New York.

4-Poulomi Basu, from the series Sisters of the Moon, 2022. Courtesy the artist, TJ Boulting and JAPC.

5-Guerrilla Girls, History of Wealth & Power, 2016. © Guerrilla Girls, courtesy

6-Mari Katayama, just one of those things #002, 2021. © Mari Katayama

7-Zanele Muholi, Bester, New York, 2019. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy Yancey Richardson, New York.

8-Sheida Soleimani, Delara, 2015. © Sheida Soleimani. Courtesy Edel Assanti.

Lebohang Kganye

Dipina tsa Kganya

Interview with Sarah Allen

Lebohang Kganye speaks with Sarah Allen about investigating her own family history, merging photography and theatre as a means to perform the constructed nature of memory and siting new work in the context of a Bristol sugar plantation and slave owner’s home from the 18th century.

Sarah Allen: Much of your photography deals with investigating your own family history. Was there a spark that lit this particular interest?

Lebohang Kganye: My mother’s passing ten years ago initiated the need to trace my ancestral roots. She was my main link to our extended family and past since we all now live in separate homes. I had to locate myself in the wider family on some level and perhaps also explore the possibility of keeping a connection with her. Two years after my mother’s passing, I was looking at a lot of her photographs and the more I kept looking, I realised that a lot of the locations these photographs were taken in – the ones I could recognise – were mostly at my grandmother’s yard or somewhere I knew. I went on this journey in search of her. I also realised that a lot of the clothes she was wearing in these photographs of her as young woman were in the house. I then put on her clothes and started going to the locations where my mother had been photographed to restage her photographs and mimicking the same poses to visually emulate my adoption of the role of the mother to my sister after our mother’s death.

In Jacques Derrida’s The Work of Mourning (2001), he discusses the loss of self that takes place when you lose someone you love: a double loss. My reconnection with my mother became a substitute for the paucity of memory through a visual manipulation of ‘her-our’ histories by inserting myself into her pictorial narrative and emulating the snaps of her from my family album. Ke Lefa Laka: Her-story (2013) are digital photomontages in which I juxtaposed old photographs retrieved from the family archives of my mother in her twenties and early-thirties with photographs of a ‘present version of her-me’ to reconstruct a new story and a commonality: she is me, I am her. My mother was my main link to my extended family and history, so her death sparked the need to trace my ancestral roots and locate myself in the wider family to explore the possibility of keeping a connection with her through photography.

SA: It’s a very personal history, but it’s also one that many people can relate to: the loss of one’s mother. This dual sense of both personal and shared histories is also present in the series Ke Lefa Laka: Heir-story (2013). Could you speak a little more about this body of work, and in particular, its focus on histories of naming in South Africa?

LK: My work explores themes of personal history and ancestry whilst resonating with the history of South Africa and apartheid. Ke Lefa Laka: Heir-story documents my personal history and straddles generations of my mother’s family, resonating with the history of South African displacement, in that my family was uprooted and resettled because of apartheid laws and the amendment of land acts. The narrative, as chronicled by my grandmother, of my family moving and creating temporary homes in different locations during the apartheid era as a result of dislocation and land dispossession of Black South Africans had a direct impact on the identity of my family and on the family name. Our family name shifted in an attempt to identify with the different social and physical spaces in which my family lived, or because of negligence in the recording of names by the civil registrar at the South African Department of Home Affairs. Fragments of the name are embodied in the multiple versions of the name, starting with how it is said, how it is pronounced and finally how it is spelled: Khanye, Khanyi, Kganye and Khanyile. People often couldn’t record their own names (or dates of birth) and, sometimes, the official modes of documenting were recorded incorrectly on documents such as birth certificates, identity cards and passports: documents that attest to identities and histories, and thus resulting in an alteration of oral histories and names. Names as a historical, social product highlight the history of naming as a device against illiteracy and the lack of birth records in South Africa through names associated with historical events, which served as a register to estimate the ages of the name bearers. Names can also be chosen at random and evolve, and, indeed, the tracing of the name of ‘Khanye’ demonstrates how this surname changed over time, responding to a family’s history and migration, as they are influenced by the socio-political and economic impacts of colonialism and, then, apartheid South Africa. The work speaks to the process of migration and touches on the subject of genealogy, which transformed family structures and networks in and around Southern Africa.

SA: Did the process of working on this series teach you anything about identity in general? Did you find any form of resolution?

LK: I was thinking about the notion of ‘Identity’ within the South African context and one embraces individual identities independent of collective identities. Identity remains a space of extreme contradictions – in a way an experiment; it is a mixture of truth and fiction; a blending and clashing of gathered histories and stories, a malleable entity with the pretence of being fixed. However, it presents an interesting challenge in the way that complicates individual agency. Identity cannot be made fully tangible just like the products of a camera; it is a site for the performance of dreams and the staging of narratives of contradiction and half-truths as well as those of erasure, denial and hidden truths. Identity, therefore, becomes an orchestrated fiction and a collective invention. Achille Mbembe makes a profound statement on our perception of the world in his introduction to the Africa Remix (2007) catalogue: ‘Our way of belonging to the world, of being in the world and inhabiting it, has always been marked by, if not cultural mixing, then at least the interweaving of worlds, in a slow and sometimes incoherent dance with forms and signs which we have not been able to choose freely, but which we have succeeded, as best we can in, in domesticating and putting at our disposal.’

People have different reasons for trying to know their family histories or past. I chronicle my family name using various modes of presentation and archival materials in the form of family albums, interviews with individuals involved to weave family narratives that would otherwise not have a platform or form beyond the experiential. Both methods of data collection often lead one to an approximate truth. An individual’s memory about a particular event may include political and personal bias. On the other hand, raw artefacts such as photographs have the inherent limitation of speaking to context. Both these flaws open up an opportunity to generate my mythology and fluid story telling.

SA: Is that sense of photography’s inherent limitations one of the reasons why you work across media, for example with film and sculpture?

LK: My practice has always tried to counter this idea that the photograph is instantaneous. Revealing the different elements of the construction of a photograph as an authoring of my own history is an important part of my practice. For the animation film Pied Piper’s Voyage (2014), I worked with a studio set, with life-sized cardboard cut-out images which look like flat-mannequins. I inserted myself to construct a visual narrative in which I meet my late grandfather, who passed away before I was born. In these fictive narratives, I am the only ‘real’ person, taking on the persona of my grandfather, dressed in a suit, a typical garment that he often donned in family photographs. These different modes speak to how memory and history intersect and what their role is within a photograph. Over the last seven years, my practice has been investigating memory as material. My recent works implement the act of cutting, folding, pasting and assembling medium or life-sized elements to construct each scene. These moveable paper elements of cardboard cut-outs create the illusion of a theatre set and proposes photography both as practice and object. In a similar way to figures and objects in a dollhouse, each cut-out creates the illusion of an entire world. They look like they could be moved, changed or shifted. I wish to emphasise the fabricated nature of history and memory in this work: how the visualisation of an event always induces an element of creation, experimentation and error; an on-going construction.

SA: I am also really interested in the performative aspect of your work – the reference to set design and theatre but also the idea of performing the self and one’s own history. Could you speak a little more about that?

LK: In the process of recreating the family photographs, particularly my mother’s, I began to consider the ways in which these photographs were a performance, allowing the subjects to inhabit a range of personas. Most of the snapshots were made before I was born in 1990, at my grandmother’s house. My mother had such limited access to cameras at that time. (There was one photographer in each neighbourhood in the township. He’d be cycling by and you’d set a date for him to come and take a photo of you dressed in your Sunday best.) With the opportunity to make photographs so limited, every picture became more powerful, giving them the opportunity to plan their outfit, pose and location. In my creative practice, photography is used as a way to recreate moments that I have never myself experienced. I have begun working with theatre scripts such as in my body of work Tell Tale (2018), which is mainly inspired by Athol Fugard’s play Train Driver (2010), set in Port Elizabeth, and a chapter in Lauren Beukes’ Maverick (2004) about a character named Helen Martins, which Athol Fugard writes about in his play Road to Mecca (1985), set in Nieu Bethesda, in the Karoo, Eastern Cape.

My new project titled In Search for Memory is indicative of both my primary use of photography as a malleable medium ongoing interest in the very construct of memory. Initially developed in 2020 as a set of collage prints on inkjet paper, In Search for Memory makes use of literature as primary source material. The images produced are inspired by Malawian writer Muthi Nhlema’s science fiction novella TA O’REVA (2015). The first iteration of this project includes six ‘scenes’ assembled with inkjet print cut-outs staged as dioramas and will later extend in the form of a large-scale mechanised pop-up book installation titled Staging Memories. I will produce a large-scale book installation exploring the materiality of photography in dialogue with the disciplines of theatre and literature and to position the ‘non-fictional’ assumption of photography in conversation with the ‘fictional’ world-building capacity of theatre and literature. This interdisciplinary modality introduces a fluidity of disparate temporalities and imaginaries to the storytelling and performative gestures that continue to inform my practice. I will create an installation that visually references a set of mise-en-scène.

SA: I’m also interested in how you engage with sound – the oral and the aural – in your work. That is, both the importance of oral histories, but equally thinking about the use of sound in your video work. For example, I know your latest commission deals with the tradition of praise-singing.

LK: My latest commission by Bristol Photo Festival 2021 is a black-and-white, three-channel video installation titled Dipina tsa Kganya (2021). It features two performances informed by the notion of healing, enacted through acts of naming and cleansing. The word dipina means ‘songs’ in my mother language of Sesotho. The song referred to is that of my family clan names, traditionally passed down through oral tradition. Additionally, the Sesotho word for ‘light’, kganya, is in the etymology of my last name: Kganye. A central visual component is the lighthouse featured in the middle channel of the video work. A light beam, in perpetual motion, casts light onto the surrounding ocean scene and in turn creates shadows in the two peripheral channels of the work. In the first or left video channel, a lighthouse keeper appears as a custodian of this light, tending to it by continually cleaning the bulb: a light source that symbolically guides those lost at sea. The song featured in the work (composed by musician Thandi Ntuli) plays from a large, custom-built Polyphon music box, which is hand cranked in the third or right video channel. These performative gestures are in conversation with the southern African practice of the ‘praise-singing’ of clan names as a way of passing down the origins of the family story as an act of resistance to historical erasure, to ensure its unwritten continuity. My research inquiry began with investigating the origins of my family name ‘Khanye’ and the history of naming. This led me to exploring my family’s Direto, a Sesotho term for clan names or praise poetry of allegorical stories passed down orally from generation to generation, which a clan of people defines themselves by. In the South African context, every Black surname has its own clan poetic praises; this self-praise poem is an identification with one’s family and lineage group. These anecdotes of praise are of heroism and often expressed at important social groupings. This oral tradition of recitation gives a stage to introduce oneself to the gathering and assert oneself through an embodiment of historical events, social experiences and family lineage. It is an evolving vernacular culture of Southern Sotho oral histories embedded in the performance of naming and self-narration, as a testament of family identity in the Basotho culture. Others are derived from the names of our grandfathers and siblings from the father’s side of the family but as my father was not part of my life, I inherited my mother’s surname.

SA: As part of this commission, your work will be displayed at the Georgian House Museum. What is at stake for you when engaging with a British institution such as this?

LK: My initial reservations with the commission were deeply tied to the Georgian House Museum’s own histories. A historical museum speaks to a very specific history and context that has been identified as worthy to conserve. The museum provides visitors with the opportunity to discover what a Bristol sugar plantation and slave owner’s home might have looked like around 1790. Its 11 rooms, spread over four floors, are used to reveal what life was like above and below stairs, from the kitchen in the basement where servants prepared meals to the elegant formal rooms above. Using themes of people, home, family, ancestry, slave-trade and social hierarchy that are particular to this historically rich structure, we draw closer to the inhabitants, their stories and the social complexities of the house.

SA: What has been the greatest challenge of the commission?

LK: The exhibition was meant to open to the public in Bristol at the Georgian House Museum in April 2021, but will only be opening in April 2022 due to the pandemic.

SA: What has the past year of pandemic meant for your practice and what is the most important lesson you learned during this time?

LK: The anxiety that came with being an artist during a pandemic forced a shift in my perspective with regards to my practice. The work I have birthed during this time is so deeply spiritual.

SA: Thank you, Lebohang. It has been a pleasure to speak with you. ♦

All images courtesy the artist and the Georgian House Museum, Bristol © Lebohang Kganye

Dipina tsa Kganya will be held at the Georgian House Museum in April 2022.

Lebohang Kganye incorporates the archival and performative into a practice that centres storytelling and memory within a familial context. In 2022, a solo exhibition of Kganye’s newly commissioned works will be presented by the Georgian House Museum as part of Bristol Photo Festival 2021. Her solo exhibition The Stories We Tell: Memory as Material (2020) was staged at George Bizos Gallery at the Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa. Notable awards include the Grand Prix Images Vevey (2021–22), Paulo Cunha e Silva Art Prize (2020) and Camera Austria Award (2019). She was also selected as the finalist of the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative (2019).

Sarah Allen is Head of Programme at South London Gallery. She was previously a curator at Tate Modern, London where she curated or co-curated Zanele Muholi (2020); Sophie Taeuber-Arp (2021); Nan Goldin (2019); The Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art (2018), as well as collection displays including Mark Ruwedel (2018); Irving Penn (2019) and David Goldblatt (2019). Outside her role at South London Gallery, she sits on the Board of Directors of Belfast Photography Festival.


1-‘Ka 2-phisi yaka e pinky II’, from Her-story (2013).

2-‘Ke le motle ka bulumase le bodisi II’, from Her-story (2013).

3-‘Moketeng wa letsatsi la tswalo la ho qala la moradi waka II’, from Her-story (2013).

4-‘Ngwana o tshwana le dinaledi II’, from Her-story (2013).

5-‘Re intshitse mosebetsing II’, from Her-story (2013).

6-‘Re tantshetsa phaposing ya sekolo II’, from Her-story (2013).

7-‘You couldn’t stop the train in time’, from Tell Tale (2018).

8-‘The nameless ones in the graves’, from Tell Tale (2018).

9-‘Helen’s father grazing his goats’, from Tell Tale (2018).

10-‘Farmer selling Sneeuberg potatoes’, from Tell Tale (2018).

11-‘Johannes Hattingh struck by the bolts from above’, from Tell Tale (2018).

12-‘Never light a candle carelessly’, from Tell Tale (2018).

13>15-Still from Dipina tsa Kganya (2021).


1000 Words

Curator Conversations

(Second edition)


Click here to order the new and expanded edition of Curator Conversations.

Curator Conversations is a collection of interviews with leading curators working within contemporary photography today. It offers precious insights into key modes of thinking behind the curatorial practices that have resulted in influential and landmark exhibitions at galleries and museums across the globe, including MoMA, Tate Modern, Pompidou Centre, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Finnish Museum of Photography, Zeitz MOCAA – Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Instituto Moreira Salles and SCôP: Shanghai Center of Photography, among others.

Their contributions provide wide-ranging discussions and a strong sense of critical self-reflexivity to explore the various ways curating mediates our experience and understanding of the photographic image. Among the fundamental questions engaged in the book are the medium specificity of photography; exhibitions as ‘artwork’; critical contexts for imagery; the curator’s role; collaboration and community; notions of ethics, responsibility and care; relationships between artists and curators, museums and audiences; as well as propositions for ‘decolonisation’ through forms of curatorial activism. Ultimately, this volume sheds light on the aesthetic, political and personal concerns of creative individuals involved in exhibition-making, generating new pathways for thinking about the display and dissemination of photography.

Featuring Sarah Allen, Mariama Attah, Yves Chatap, Clément Chéroux, Charlotte Cotton, Marta Dahó, Christine Eyene, Louise Fedotov-Clements, Yining He, Tom Lovelace, Roxana Marcoci, Shoair Mavlian, Renée Mussai, Thyago Nogueira, Azu Nwagbogu, Danaé Panchaud, Alona Pardo, Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger, Holly Roussell, Drew Sawyer, Kathrin Schönegg, Urs Stahel, Lisa Sutcliffe, Nadine Wietlisbach, Duncan Wooldridge.

Editor Tim Clark
Copy Editor Alessandro Merola
Design & Art Direction Sarah Boris
Production Assistant Louis Stopforth

Tim Clark is Editor in Chief of 1000 Words and Artistic Director for Fotografia Europea in Reggio Emilia, Italy, together with Walter Guadagnini and Luce Lebart. He also teaches at The Institute of Photography, Falmouth University.

Publication date November 2023 (second edition)
Format Softcover
Dimensions 198 mm x 129 mm
Pages 160
Publisher 1000 Words (1000 Words Photography Ltd)

Public Knowledge Books


Source Photographic Review
El País
The British Journal of Photography

Curator Conversations is part of a collaborative set of activities on photography curation and scholarship initiated by Tim Clark (1000 Words and The Institute of Photography, Falmouth University), Christopher Stewart (London College of Communication, University of the Arts London) and Esther Teichmann (Royal College of Art) that has included the symposium, Encounters: Photography and Curation, in 2018 and a ten week course, Photography and Curation, hosted by The Photographers’ Gallery, London in 2018-19.