EXHIBITIONS / Documentary Genealogies. Photography 1848-1917

15 November, 2022 - 27 February, 2023
MNCARS, Madrid
Jorge Ribalta

Documentary Genealogies. Photography 1848-1917 starts from Walter Benjamin’s remark in his essay The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility (1936) 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. The seminal figure of the bootblack on Boulevard du Temple [Boulevard of the Temple, 1838], one of Louis Daguerre’s first daguerreotypes, is the first appearance of the worker in photography: the root of the historical narrative around class relations and conflicts, an axis for the documentary discourse to come.


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