Gil Pasternak delivers a keynote lecture on photography in politics as part of the 5th international annual conference After Post-Photography at the European University in Saint Petersburg

On 24 May 2019 Gil Pasternak delivered a keynote lecture in the 5th international annual conference After Post-Photography, which was held at the European University in St Petersburg (23-25 May 2019). Entitled, “Photography in Politics: Remembering and Being Together, With Photographs”, Gil’s presentation explored how the absorption of photography into politics has aided in cementing a general understanding of photographs as memoranda, indexical records of the past, and aide-memoires more broadly. Studying how the relationship between photography and politics emerged, and what factors might have contributed to strengthening it over time, Gil began with a discussion of photography in professional politics, analyzing how statesmen have conceptualized the medium in relation to the concepts of evidence and commemoration, and how they employed it as such for political gain. Turning attention to the governed layers of society, in the second part of his talk Gil explored how photography has served them to evoke the memory of the past, in concrete efforts to contest or support rulers, state power, stagnant doctrines, and institutional histories. Lastly, in the final part of his talk Gil explored some of the roles that photography has been tasked to perform in the context of sociocultural and identity politics. Here he considered its perception as a medium capable of challenging memories of stereotypes, as well as one that is able to reshape archives and historical collections. Prioritizing examples from a variety of continents, historical moments, digital and material environments, the talk clarified how politics has affected photographic uses, practices, meanings, and also photographic digital heritage more recently, in ways that have swayed people’s memories and, thus, also their lives.

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