Agents of Meaning
"Divergent identities, cultures and languages springing from previously marginalised locations are having a radical effect on the organisation and structure of photographic thought. The field has widened its borders to include photographic artists and artworks from cultures hitherto considered peripheral to the discourse’s Western centre. In tandem, there has been an influx of photography historians, researchers, curators, critics and theorists operating from within geopolitical regions largely exempt from earlier photo-historical records, who are bringing forth deeper, culturally specific knowledge. In describing their own locations, their so-called marginality paradoxically becomes their centrality and can be empowering. Curators are now often expected to engage with a vastly expanded breadth and depth of photographic practices worldwide, which can encourage their desire to seek specialist, local knowledge. The interpretation of a particular work may elicit more than one degree of mediation. A tension regarding the legitimacy and authority of voice may arise between those who can claim their belonging to these locations, and others who may be considered as outliers..."
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Preston, Madeline Yale "Agents of Meaning" in Photography from the Middle East: Emerging Histories & New Practices, ed. Shamoon Zamir and Issam Nassar. London: I.B. Tauris, forthcoming.