What you see are the results of twelve students’ year-long journey of making, reflecting, producing, evaluating. All of them have been engaging in what we at MAPS like to refer to as an ‘undisciplined photography.’ That is, what you see as part of the graduation festival are twelve “stories-so-far,” to paraphrase the geographer Doreen Massey.
For us, photography is not in stasis, but can be understood as a “doing,” where it is dynamic and constantly in the process of being made, a participant within a broader constellation of forces that proposes an alternative to the linear, neoliberal trajectory that we live in today. A story-so-far is a discovery of other stories, and what they tell us, allows us to build a political argument. That’s because they intersect with a multiplicity of stories. At MAPS, we want to dare to imagine other worlds. To provide scenarios and possibilities of how something else can emerge and work against the illusion of linear progress.
This rethinking — undisciplining — of photography into a more dynamic and processual mode, leads to a comprehensive practice where the studying, producing and looking at images is one. Where photography functions as a life-giving force — not as a mode of inertia, or even death. This celebration of life is reflected in the need at Photography & Society to be public. While we express the desire of envisioning and fashioning other worlds through a dynamic photographic practice, one that might challenge the dominant modes of life today, at MAPS we believe that we have to do more than just dream of better worlds, but somehow, find the action in creating those worlds. That is, the role of being public, of being engaged, a form of civic acknowledgment.
The photography writer Ben Burbridge recently spoke of the idea of pockets of time and space where we are able to look and share and produce photography as a means of engaging with the world which, in turn, produces a collectivity of photographs, that then moves, is active. The graduation show with all of these twelve practices on display is just such a pocket of time and space, where it is not a conclusion to a two-year master’s degree, but rather, the beginnings of a flourishing career in the world, and part of the world. The work gathered here forms our foundation of being in the world.