In our digitally connected world photography can be found everywhere from social media platforms to Google Street View. Yet whilst we experience the near ubiquity of photography, the labour that produces it remains invisible. In his book Photography After Capitalism, Ben Burbridge draws upon photography as both a contemporary artform and vernacular practice in order to explore the hidden labour that underpins it: “the hidden work of smartphone assembly teams, digital content moderators, Street View car drivers, Google “Scan-Ops,” low-paid gallery interns, homeless participant photographers, and the photo-sharing masses.” This turn to the labour that underpins photography reveals a paradox of the digital revolution. This paradox, according to Burbridge,
“…lies in the intensive privatisation of the channels through which photography’s democratic possibilities are publicly and collectively explored, the brutal exploitation of the invisible labour that hardware and software require, the concentration of the resulting wealth among a small and increasingly powerful proportion of the population.”(Burbridge, p.19)
We are simultaneously faced with both almost limitless technological possibilities, and fixed exploitative socio-economic relations. The sense that in technology everything is possible, whilst in socio-economics everything must remain fixed, creates a tension at the heart of contemporary photography. As Burbridge writes, “Photography in its present state exemplifies the best and worst of what we can be.”
In turning to photography as work, Burbridge explores both the limits of the present capitalist organisation of photography, as well as the utopian and democratic elements of photographic culture that might remodel current social relations. In this session we will be having a live interactive conversation with Ben Burbridge about his book, the relationship between photography and work, its import for photographic practices and the social, cultural and political functions of art.
This session will be run as part of the Exploding Appendix Avant-garde Art Practice and Research Group’s fortnightly meetup. The sessions are free and open to everyone. No prior knowledge of the subject matter is needed, but if people are interested, further reading can be found here:
Ben Burbridge, Photography After Capitalism
This session will take place both online via Zoom and in person at The Artist Residence, Brighton, UK. The Artists Residence can be found on 33 Regency Square, Brighton, BN1 2GG. Join us in Venue from 7pm and online from 730pm. To book a free place in the venue, click here. For any questions please message me at email@example.com
The online session will take place via Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85458257129?pwd=RklLZjMxd1JHRkhJeE1RdGlMT25pZz09). The meeting ID is 854 5825 7129. The passcode is “607103“.
This session will be run by Bradley Tuck and take place on the 15th March 2022 from 19:30 – 22:30 (UK time). If you have any questions please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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