Albania Expanded Image: a conversation with Alfredo Cramerotti

“The most obvious and ubiquitous – and important – realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about…”, writes Alfredo Cramerotti introducing his text on the Hyperimage.  We all must come to realise that we live in the world of images.  We communicate with them while working or sharing archives, everyday emotions or distribute information. We copy and recopy them, delete and find them again…  They are becoming our vocabulary without syntax, where cohesion and coherence are lurking in the box of the lost and found.  Artists as well as journalists, politicians, and society at large produce images and diffuse them through different devices, formats for different uses and audiences.  We are using a sort of ‘visual Esperanto’ every moment.  How do we make sense of this new and still unacknowledged vocabulary?

Alfredo Cramerotti will talk at COD about the hyperimage, explaining its theoretical grounding and his approach to curatorial practice, in dialogue with Valentina Bonizzi.

Albania Expanded Image is a series of discussions regarding the role of media in artistic production in this region.  After a preliminary research AEI came to realize that in the specific case of Albania, the relationship between art and media is absorbed by the political dialogue happening on TV, radio, social media and in bars around the country.  AEI wants to make this dialogue manifest and relevant, bringing it back to the place where it may have the most impact.

(Valentina Bonizzi, Alfredo Cramerotti and the Chamber of Public Secrets)

Alfredo Cramerotti is a writer, curator, publisher and artist, providing strategic and artistic leadership for cultural institutions.  He is Director of MOSTYN, the foremost visual art centre in Wales (UK), Co-Director of AGM Culture, roaming curatorial agency (2003-), and CPS Chamber of Public Secrets, art & media production (2004-), and Editor of Critical Photography series, Intellect Books, Bristol, UK & Chicago, USA.  Amongst other exhibitions, he co-curated the biennials Manifesta 8 in Murcia (Spain) and Sequences 7 in Reykjavik (Iceland), three Pavilions at the Venice Biennial (Maldives and Wales in 2013, Mauritius in 2015), and the EXPO VIDEO in Chicago, USA. He is a Visiting Lecturer in several European and American universities, including Goldsmiths (University of London), Università Cattolica Milano, Liverpool John Moores University, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, School of Art Institute of Chicago, University of Westminster, HEAD University of Art & Design Geneva and DAI Dutch Arts Institute. Since 2012, he is Research Scholar, PhD Cand. at eCPR European Centre for Photography Research, University of South Wales (UK).

Valentina Bonizzi’s work and explores the role of the image in all its expanded forms considering the politics of time in relation to hybridity, migration and the environment.

Among others Bonizzi exhibited at the British School at Rome, National Galleries of Scotland, Stills Gallery, Fondazione Fotografia Modena. She has presented her work in a number of institutions such as Ramallah Academy of the Arts, Akademie der Kunste, Berlin, Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella, Visual Research Centre, Dundee, National Archive and Record Admnistration, Washington. Bonizzi has published with the Journal for Flusser Studies: What legitimates photography? and the Mauritious Catalogue of the Venice Biennal: When you realised you were a: White. European. Male. She completed an AHRC funded PhD titled: Cartographers: a practice based investigation on memory, conflict and the aerial image. Her work was nominated by the AHRC as Best Research in Film Award. She collaborates with Glasgow Refugee Asylum Migration Network, DAAR (Palestine), Mnemoscape Magazine, Free Academy of the Arts (ALA Group), Rome.

Chamber of Public Secrets (CPS) is a network of artists, curators and writers providing a platform for the kind of artistic expression that goes beyond what is recognized on the global art scene.

As a consequence of political developments around the world and the withdrawal of a silent intellectual majority from the social spectrum into the narrow passages of academia, socially and politically motivated art has become the driving force behind CPS’ collective practices.

CPS regards art as an agent of empowerment and involves viewers from all different backgrounds and communities. It works on the history of visual aesthetics, art and culture with diverse interests in the fields of social history, scientific research and critical theory. It engages with the public space and the way people use it; questions institutional thinking, thought control and authority-inflicted fear, and modes of instilling self-censorship in cultural producers, as well as socio-political apathy as a general public phenomenon.

The Hyperimage

We are all implicated in photography whether we like it or not. Whether we associate this visual language with a precise function or use it to shape ourselves as individuals and communities, we trade our existence in images.  We refer to images and image making in social, political and cultural acts.

The established categories in which photography was once subdivided, practiced, understood and discussed have been reconfigured.  It’s as though our society has freed image-making from previously articulated specific applications, blurring the boundaries between genres and functions, and rendering the photographic image as a free-floating subject on its own, detached from any relation specific to its origins; what I term the ‘hyperimage’.

Photography is a vocabulary, a language that is neither written nor verbal, but visual and digital.  Using the curation of art as a method, and building on my previous body of research on the interaction and mutual influence between artistic and media work (Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform without Informing, Intellect, 2009), I attempt to grasp how photography has entered its adulthood, and how we can use the concept of the hyperimage to understand our visual information age.

How are artists’ and visual authors’ inquiries, values and justifications being reconfigured through the hyperimage? How do contemporary artists act as translators for such enquiries from one context to another, rather than representing them in a singular context?

Conversely, how does an overall ‘media age’ which almost doesn’t recognize different visual practices and approaches, inform cultural production including curating, exhibition making and displaying?

The answers to the above queries may bring to the surface how this photographic moment in the history of image-making, distribution, staging and consumption is changing the organizing, as well as the production principle, of current visual cultural creation.

Alfredo Cramerotti, 2016.