The (Invisible) Art of Documenting Art

Single-channel digital video HD, color, sound, 16:9,
Book, full color, 160 pages
30,5 x 22,5 cm.
Publisher: Caniche Editorial
Texts: Cristina Garrido
Language: Spanish, English
[Realized with the support of Fundación Botín Visual Arts Grant 2017-2018]

If, today, the installation view of an exhibition exceeds by far the number of viewers that visit a gallery or a museum, we could deduce that the work of the art photographer often has more public than the artists whose work he or she portrays.

This project puts the focus of attention, through the gesture of rotating the camera, on the figure of the documentary photographer of contemporary art as a fundamental mediator between the work of art and the viewer in the Digital Age. It explores the relationship that it is established between the artist, his/ her work and the art photographer, who irremediably contributes with his/ her subjective vision of the art object or exhibition.

Who are these people, whose names are given last place on the photo credit by the art system, which may even deliberately erase their names from the photo? What parameters do they operate from? What is their employment situation? What process do they follow when creating their images? How do they balance the alleged pursuit of objectivity with the professional need to stand out in the era of Instagram and other platforms of compulsive consumption of photographs? How do they evaluate the role that they play in the system of the production, circulation and distribution of contemporary art? And, ultimately, who owns their images?

The project investigates the paradoxical tension between the growing demand for their images and the discreet recognition of these professionals in the art system through my conversations with eight international art photographers: Roberto Ruiz (Spain), Peter Cox (The Netherlands), Moritz Bernoully (Germany), Carlos Díaz Corona (Mexico), PJ Rountree (United States), Erika Barahona Ede (Spain), Ela Bilakowska (Italy) and Andrea Rossetti (Italy).

Alongside the video piece, a book with the same title has been published with Caniche Editorial, in which the complete conversations with each photographer are featured, as well as a selection of each photographer´s images of contemporary artworks and exhibitions.

Video still
Trailer, 3´
Installation view of Itinerarios XXV, Centro Botín (Santander, Spain, 2019)
© Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio
Cover and backcover of the book
Inside views of the book