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Masterclass with Joan Fontcuberta | Photographs in purgatory

Joan Fontcuberta

Salón Teatro

4th October from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Free, by order of registration | SOLD OUT


My work has dealt with the multiple razor-sharp elements of photography as a specific form of experience, which tests our ability to capture truth and memory. A crucial aspect has been the materiality of the image: What are the images made of? What would be the zero degree of photographic writing? 

When the images dematerialise, I try to help save the ruins of that photographic substance to which we attributed the alchemical power of retaining life while conjuring death. In many recent projects, I visited archives and historical collections to search for traumatic images, ill, damaged photographs, photographs that suffer some type of disorder that disturbs their document function and makes them unable to continue “inhabiting” the archive. What happens, we can ask ourselves then, when a photograph is "released from its soul"? What remains when a photograph no longer points out a reality out of itself and only the substrate, the residue, just a few spots of light-sensitive chemicals remain? At that moment, the photograph becomes a ghost. In certain beliefs, ghosts are souls that cannot be recovered for the reincarnation cycle because they still have some kind of unfinished mission. Perhaps these photographic phantasmagoria are still wandering through purgatory because of their unfinished work, which was to hold onto what has disappeared.

  • Joan Fontcuberta

    Joan Fontcuberta (Barcelona, 1955) is an artist, essayist, teacher and exhibition curator. His creative work has merited monographic exhibitions at the MoMA in New York (1988); the Art Institute in Chicago (1990); the IVAM in Valencia (1992); the MNAC in Barcelona (1999); ARTIUM in Vitoria (2003); the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris (2014); Science Museum in London (2014), and the Art Museum of the Bank of the Republic in Bogota (2016), among others.

    As a teacher, he has been a visiting professor at different international institutions such as Harvard University and Le Fresnoy. Centre National des Arts Contemporains, in France. He has published numerous thematic books related to the history, aesthetics and pedagogy of photography: the two latest publications are  La furia de las imágenes. Nota sobre la postfotografía (Galaxia Gutemberg, Barcelona, 2016) and Revelacions (Arcàdia, Barcelona, 2019). 

    In 2013, Joan Fontcuberta was awarded the international prize from the Hasselblad Foundation. In Spain, he received the National Photography Prize (1998) and the National Essay Prize (2011). En 2012, he received the National Visual Arts Culture Award from the Catalan Government and in 2016, the City of Barcelona Award in Essay and Humanities.