Artistic Research in
Documentary Photography
Workshop
Matei Bejenaru in collaboration with Alina Șerban

How to Read Documentary Photography?
Contemporary Approaches and Practices

The revalidation of the idea of document in contemporary art, through photography or film, brings back to the fore, perhaps more intensely and with greater immediacy than we might expect, the ethical and social (communal) implications that this type of artistic practice triggers against the background of the overthrow of the relations of autonomy imposed on art by the voices of modernity and the domino effect of the flow of images that constantly invade today’s society. In this context, documentary photography recalibrates its own status, suggesting a way out of the simple routine of reproducing reality, of the alleged recording in the name of art, in order to appropriate the status of dialogic and critical relay, thus joining the aesthetic with the social. Mainly contextual, historically engaged, documentary photography gives meaning to often devalued themes, re-signified them in order to turn them into a metacommentary.
The current workshop will introduce different approaches of narrative and conceptual construction in documentary photography, illustrated by case studies. Thus, the first part of the workshop focuses on contemporary artistic and theoretical methods and discourses in contemporary photography; while the second proposes a dialogue with the participants in the form of a Portofoliu Review.

Alina Șerban is an art historian. In 2013, she initiated in Bucharest the editorial program P+4 Publications dedicated to Romanian contemporary art, photography and architecture, editing publications such as Ion Grigorescu. BucureștiMatei Bejenaru. PRUTDan Perjovschi. The Book of Notebooks and The Factory of Facts and Other (Unspoken) Stories. Together with Ștefania Ferchedău, she conceived the artistic program of the Institute of the Present (Institutului Prezentului), a platform of artistic resources and research in the fields of visual and performative culture from Bucharest (www.institutulprezentului.ro). Among the projects curated in the Institute: the exhibition 24 argumentsEarly Encounters in Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde 1969–1971; the series of meetings IP Regional Meetings #1, #2: Situating Narratives. Strategies of History Writing in Eastern European Art (2018), Unpaged. How to Revisit History from a Plural Perspective?. She is co-editor of PARKOUR, publications conceived as a series of interviews with renowned persons in the artistic, musical, and performative fields from Romania.


Matei Bejenaru
is an artist and founder of Periferic Biennial in Iasi, Romania. Established in 1997 as a performance festival, Periferic transformed into an international artist-run contemporary art biennial defined as a platform for discussions on the historical, socio-political, and cultural contexts of the city. With a group of artists and philosophers from Iasi, Bejenaru founded the Vector Association in 2001, a contemporary art institution that supported the local emerging art scene to become locally and internationally visible. Together with a group of artists and professor he founded in 2015 the Center of Contemporary Photography. As an artist, in his documentary photographs, video and public performances, he examines the politics of representation in documentary photography and film and methods of generation of hybrid art projects at the confluence between visual arts, poetry, experimental music and scientific research. He exhibited, among others, at ICA London, Tate Modern – Level 2 Gallery, MUSAC, as well as in the framework of Tirana, Taipei, Timisoara and Athens Biennials. He is teaching photography and video at “George Enescu” University of Arts in Iasi.

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