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Past SPE Annual Conferences

Workshop with Gregory Halpern

Expanded Documentary: The Wonderful and Troubled Relationship of Photography and Realism

Documentary is an uncomfortable word to apply to photography. In 2016, the word sounds not only old-fashioned, but its usage implies a stubborn blindness to decades of creative work (both visual and written) aimed at debunking the notion of truth in photography. The efforts of these artists and writers successfully displaced documentary, but also produced innovative work in the process. Not only did they show us what “documentary” is not, they also showed us how it can move forward. The premise of this workshop is the existence of a rich and wonderfully problematic space for Realism in photography, an amorphous space that sits somewhere between fact and fiction, between poetry and reportage. In this workshop we will explore the work of artists, writers, filmmakers and photographers, who are inspired by a world “outside themselves” and who produce work in an unapologetically subjective way. We’ll also look at what “documentary” has traditionally meant, how it is and is not evolving, and what its roadblocks and possibilities are going forward.

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