After Post-Photography
Seventh international conference on visual studies, history and theory of photography
02-03 June 2022, European University at St Petersburg


02 June

Panel/workshop for emerging researchers (in Russian)
presenters: Hanna Hrynkevich (Aalborg University), Maria Kozharinova (HSE), Varvara Mikhaylovskaya (HSE), Svyatoslav Kostenko (HSE), Anastasiya Yukhimenko (EU), Alexandra Tcibulia (EU), Irina Kapitonova (HSE), Oksana Ivanova (EU)
discussants: Olga Annanurova ( ISCI RANEPA ), Oksana Gavrishina (RHSE), Daria Panaiotti (HSE), Denis Skopin (SPbU), Olga Davydova (SPbU), Irina Chmyreva (RAA), Ekaterina Kalinina (MSU)

European University at St. Petersburg, 3 floor, exhibition of photographs by Alexandra Demenkova 

3 June
Alexandra Yurgeneva, The State Institute for art studies, Sector of artistic problems of mass: Photographic representation of coronavirus in the news

We are interested in questions: what does modern scientific photography give the viewer and what significance does it have for science itself? There is an aestheticization of the objects of scientific study, which allows science itself to rise in the eyes of the layman to the idea of it as an art that subordinates the material world. The original “natural” image is forcibly brought to the aesthetic criteria existing in modern culture. Scientific photography, as a rule, offers an image of an amazing and non-conflict reality in which everything is beautiful, even what scares us in everyday life. We can say that this direction of documentary photography is also opposed in the information space to documentary frames of acute social photography and, for example, pictures from places of military operations.

Margarita Fomkina, PhD Candidate, Institute of History, St. Petersburg University: Photographs of the Romanovs: Constructing the Past in the Russian museums in 1920– 1930s

The talk is devoted to photographs of the Romanovs in expositions opened in 1918 in the former imperial palaces. On the basis of museum guides and archival documents of the 1920s-1930s, the author traces how the role of photography changed in the course of understanding the museum of guides and archival documents of the 1920s-1930s.

Olga Annanurova, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Cultural Studies and International Communication ISCI RANEPA: Unrepresentable Experience: World War I in Stereo Photographs

The World War I is one of the first wars massively represented in photographs. Images from the battlefield were often censored and shown in various formats not only in newspapers, but even in galleries and were produced as stereoscopic cards for viewing them in living rooms. It was then that different modes of perception of war were forming, constructing the range of feelings from shock to view from the distance and the “habit” for represented violence. In this regard, the stereo photographs of the World War I are of particular interest as the images which immerse the viewer in the presented scene and refer to the haptic perception. The contemporary war images which transmitted through digital media and perceived mostly from phone and computer screens also refer to the questions about the physical perception of war and encourage the investigation of the experience from hundred years ago.

Daria Panaiotti, Researcher, Photography department, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art (Moscow): The ethos of spectator and various understandings of spectatorship, between failure to act and moral obligation

The explosive popularity of one quote from Susan Sontag’s “Regarding the Pain of Others” in Russian social media made me wonder whether the ethos of observer suggested by Sontag in 2003 retains its relevance today. In the era of post-truth, which is marked bydisillusionment in social media, you might think that the simple appeal to look at the Others’ pain in search of compassion and relatability would be considered old-style.

But instead, it fell in sync with the pushing into constant, 24/7 visual activity that is characteristic of social media. Along with having a VPN, one, it seemed, had to fully immerse oneself into the very specific visual experience, to tweak one’s attentiveness, and to install a certain emotional profile in order to keep up with the international network. In frames of the paper, I would like to meditate on the place of Sontag’s ethos of observer, as well as other modes of observer suggested by contemporary visual criticism.

Fred Ritchin, Dean Emeritus of the International Center of Photography, USA: In Pursuit of an Alternative Photography of Peace and Healing

In general, photography is used reactively, waiting for events such as wars or climate change to happen and then depicting the catastrophes that ensue, rather than proactively, attempting to prevent or minimize the damage in advance, or enabling the healing of those who have suffered from such events. Its bias is to depict time as discrete, capable of being depicted in slices, rather than as continuous, with a sense of the before and after that encourages an examination of cause and effect.

Photography tends to be used to concentrate upon the visible symptoms of underlying problems (homelessness, refugees, political violence) rather than to explore the less visible systems from which these symptoms emerge. And it privileges the point of view of the photographer, no matter how deep or shallow their understanding of a situation might be, rather than more fully engaging with those depicted to provide a larger sense of the context in which an image was made.

What can a photographer do, instead, to advance peace and healing and a more holistic sense of life? How might the “subject” of the photograph, or more accurately its protagonist, be involved in determining the meaning of the image? And how will the immanent emergence of synthetic imagery that can simulate photographs, making the world appear as one wants it to look, challenge the credibility of the photograph as witness in the months and years to come?