Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam and Pioneer Works present Under Construction: New Positions in American Photography, a group exhibition featuring ten young American and Canadian photographers. Even though the results of the artists’ individual practices are very diverse, the mentality, methodology, and presentation of their work show a number of remarkable similarities. A key characteristic is the investigative attitude they adopt in looking at the photographic image and its representation. All the featured artists are explicitly engaged in a fundamental reassessment of the value and significance of photography in the early twenty-first century. This exhibition was first shown at Foam Museum in Amsterdam from September to December 2014.
The far-reaching digitization of society exerts an unparalleled influence on almost every aspect of the medium. This ranges from entirely new photographic techniques (digitization of the equipment) and the use of the photographic image (distribution via digital networks) to the value and significance of photography itself (in view of the never-ending stream of many millions of photographic images that are being taken, distributed and manipulated every day). This fundamental reassessment is particularly appropriate and important in a society in which so much culturally relevant information is communicated via images and where an unprecedented and extremely complex dynamic has developed amongst images. In this new world, how can photography or a photograph be defined? What is the value and significance of photography? What is the role of the artist?
These kinds of questions are of utmost relevance for this new generation of image makers who all represent very specific positions within a complex landscape. One of the most distinguishing features is that the image is constructed and built up from decontextualized elements. Furthermore its aesthetic qualities are largely determined by the use of abstract forms and colors. Whether the photograph is created entirely from scratch or whether it is put together using archetypal images, art history references, archive material, or pictures derived from the internet, the end result is fragmented and layered. The artists make use of analogue or digital workflows, or a combination of both, often using advanced post-production software. With the introduction of three dimensionality as a self-evident addition, the photographic image is not always limited to a flat surface.
The participants of Under Construction are in fact engaged with a reinvention of photography within a totally different societal context, taking account of more than 150 years of photographic history. It is no less than a photographic renaissance.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Foam Magazine devoted its #38 Issue: Under Construction, to the work of the above listed photographers, featuring extensive portfolios and texts by contributors such as Marcel Feil, Joshua Chang, Lorenzo Durantini, and Hito Steyerl.
This exhibition is made possible thanks to the generous support of principal benefactors Mondriaan Fund and WeTransfer, with additional support from Arcadis, the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Standard.