Documentary Genealogies. Photography 1848-1917 starts from Walter Benjamin’s remark on the parallel emergence of photography and of socialism. Following such parallel allows the hypothesis that the ideas and iconographies used to represent the everyday life of the working class—which is the constitutive impulse for the rise of documentary discourse and practices in the 1920s, as a specific form of filmic and photographic poetics—were already latent or active in 1840s visual culture.
Therefore, this exhibition presents a cartography of practices related to the appearance and evolution of representations of subaltern identities—workers, servants, proletarians, beggars, the deprived—stretching from the rise of photography to the turn of the century (more specifically, between the European revolutionary cycle of 1848 and the Russian Revolution in 1917). A show that closes a series that began in 2011 in the Museo Reina Sofía with the exhibitions A Hard, Merciless Light. The Worker Photography Movement, 1926-1939 and continued in 2015 with Not Yet. On the Reinvention of Documentary and the Critique of Modernism.
Museo Reina Sofía Publications