düsseldorf photo+ 2024 – On Reality / Ways of Seeing

The third edition of the Biennale for Visual and Sonic Mediadüsseldorf photo+ will take place under the heading On Reality, from May 17 to July 14, 2024. Throughout Düsseldorf, visitors explore contemporary photography and media-based art in all their multifaceted forms in exhibitions, concerts, talks, panel discussions and other events. The artists involved will reflect in a variety of ways on how media continues to significantly shape our understanding of reality today and how it has done so in the past. Computer-generated images and sound worlds are omnipresent in our world. At the Biennale, they form an integral part of our offering alongside audiovisual realities created by analogue means. In total, the Biennale presents almost 300 artists and contributors and spans over 50 exhibitions and events at venues including museums, private collections, galleries, independent exhibition spaces and universities.

This year’s düsseldorf photo+ has been organised under the artistic direction of Pola Sieverding and Rupert Pfab, along with Ljiljana Radlovic, with the generous support of Cultural Office Düsseldorf and National-Bank Essen. The symposium and main exhibition have been curated by Pola Sieverding & Asya Yaghmurian.

On Reality symposium
May 18–19, 2024
at K21 The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen
Ständehausstraße 1, 40217 Düsseldorf, Germany

Since the advent of photography, reflections on human access to what we call reality and its translation through media have gained urgency. With the introduction of computer-generated images, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence, the question remains more relevant than ever: Have reality and image switched roles? Is it even possible to distinguish between the two?

The symposium On Reality, a collaboration of düsseldorf photo+ Biennale for Visual and Sonic Media and K21 Kunstsammlung NRW, will invite artists, researchers, philosophers, and media theorists to explore how visual media relates to the notion of reality, and to which extent the medium influences our perception and comprehension of it. The symposium looks at photography as an everyday ‘cultural technique,’ linking it with philosophical, sociological, and ethical discourses. It critically examines how reality is constructed through techniques of visualization and naming, addressing the challenges brought by contemporary ‘imaging techniques.’

Gabrielle Moser: A Disobedient Gaze: Artists in the Colonial Photographic Archive.
Sim Chi Yin: One Day We’ll Understand.
Federico Campagna: World-building Imagination.
Hannah Darabi: From Enghelab Street to Persian Square.
Stan Douglas: The Black Mirror or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Photography.
Ana Teixeira Pinto: The Parallel History of Optics and Ballistics.
Elena Esposito: The Real Effects of Deepfakes: Reportage, illustration, and truth in AI-generated images.
Jon Rafman: Reality Shifting with Ron Jafman.
Julie Favreau, Elaine G. Goldberg, Marie-France Rafael: Imaging Realities: The work of art in the age of digital experience.

Ways of Seeing exhibition
Opening May 17, 6–9 pm
düsseldorf photo+ lab
Kapuzinergasse 24, 40213 Düsseldorf

Artists: Harun Farocki, Forensic Architecture, Geocinema, Kyriaki Goni, Jill Magid, Clara Mosch, Jon Rafman, Natascha Sadr Haghighian

In his 1972 BBC series “Ways of Seeing”, John Berger argues that the way we look at images reveals to us something about ourselves and the situation in which we live. Drawing on Walter Benjamin, he argues that the meaning of images changes as a consequence of reproducibility. Today, the human, too, constantly morphs into images and data: documented, analysed, and sorted by smart instruments and algorithmic operations. The effect of mechanical reproducibility dislocates the image as well as the act of observing itself. The exhibition Ways of Seeing seeks to explore unfolding connections between mechanisms of power, control, social responsibility, and narratives of freedom, examining their manifestation or refraction in the presence of and through the lens of observation. Out of the technical image evolves a technical imagination, no longer oriented toward the human observer. Focusing on various situations of surveillance, the exhibited works emphasize new ways of seeing that articulate unknown sites of consciousness, experience, and communication.