Fotógrafo desconocido, Fotografías de delincuentes No. 19, Thomas Cunningham, Sheriff, Stockton, California, ca. 1880-90.

Structures of Identity. The Walther Collection

Foto Colectania presents an exhibition that brings together a selection of photographic works from the famous German-American collection

. With more than a hundred images of great masters such as August Sander, Richard Avedon or Seydou Keïta and contemporary photographers like Samuel Fosso, Zanele Muholi or Zhang Huan.

. The exhibition explains how photographers, through different cultures and historical periods, have used portraiture to explore the notion of gender or identity.

J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Untitled [Hairstyles], 1970-79. © The artist. Courtesy of The Walther Collection and Magnin-A Gallery, Paris.

This exhibition shows how photographers from different cultures and historical periods have used the power of portraiture to affirm or question the social stereotypes created around themes of gender, social class and nationality. Structures of Identity invites us to reflect on how portrait photography has evolved, visualizing the political and cultural factors that shape individual and collective subjectivities, with a particular focus on the relationship between self-representation and social identity.

The exhibition begins its journey presenting remarkable examples of historical and vernacular photographs of unknown authors. Thus, the exhibition shows us how from the origins of photography in the 1840s, the portraits of individuals, from the family album to the photograph from the police, denote social hierarchies.

The most iconic work of photographers such as August Sander, Richard Avedon or Seydou Keïta are complemented by photographs by contemporary artists such as Samuel Fosso, Zanele Muholi or Zhang Huan. Thus we find the emblematic project of August Sander Rostros of our time that, through sixty portraits of workers, farmers, students, artists and the bourgeoisie in general, wanted to show the archetypes of the Germany of the early twentieth century. The exhibition also includes the ambitious project of the renowned photographer Richard Avedon, La familia (1974), an order by the magazine Rolling Stone to tell the pantheon of the American political class through a series of sharp portraits of the political power clique. The project of the Nigerian J.D.'Okhai Ojeikere, who embarked on the ambitious project of systematically registering Nigeria's cultural elements through a wide variety of women's hairstyles that remind us of delicate sculptures, should also be highlighted.

The selection of works for this exhibition thus emphasizes the work of artists who have used the portrait to subvert visual expectations and challenge the identification markers, questioning the notion of a stable and authentic "I".

In short, this new exhibition highlights the different ways in which subjectivity and social identity are built and the value they have within the history of the medium. In addition, it illustrates The Walther Collection's effort to explore the history of photography beyond conventional, temporal, cultural and geographic boundaries.

About The Walther Collection

The Walther Collection is an art Foundation dedicated to the critical understanding of historical and contemporary photography and related media. Through a program of international exhibitions, the intense practice of collecting, research and academic publications, The Walther Collection aims to highlight the social uses of photography and expand the history of the medium worldwide.

At its Neu-Ulm campus (Germany), its Project Space in New York City and with traveling installations around the world, The Walther Collection presents thematic and monographic exhibitions drawn from its wide range of photographs and media art: Chinese collections, Japanese and European of modern and contemporary works, nineteenth-century photographs of Europe and Africa, and vernacular images taken by cameras from around the world.

The educational program of the collection is complemented by lectures and public screenings, international academic symposiums and a series of catalogs and monographs, co-edited by Steidl, highly appreciated by critics.

J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Untitled [Hairstyles], 1970-79. © The artist. Courtesy of The Walther Collection and Magnin-A Gallery, Paris.
© Seydou Keïta, Untitled Portrait, 1952-58

Exhibition organized with The Walther Collection with the special collaboration of the Banco Sabadell Foundation.





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