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June 12, 2012


June 12, 2012 | By |

We seek submissions for Artless Photographs, an exhibition to be held during October 2012 in Cincinnati as part of the Fotofocus Biennial (

Artless Photographs examines documentary photographs taken in a range of institutional contexts that record exacting details about individual bodies and identities while also generating diagnostic and predictive typologies. Taking the viewer from events as distinct as model castings in New York’s fashion industry to exhumations in post-conflict Spain, the show compels viewers to think critically about the power and utter mundanity of photography and the practices that produce them. Arguing that these seemingly “artless photographs” are anything but straight-forward representations, the exhibition explores how the standardization and routinization of these images’ production simultaneously de-emphasizes the role of the photographer while also elevating the expertise required to interpret and read the small details and auratic potential of these images. Exhibiting these collections alongside audio, visual, and textual documentation of the processes of their production, the show will juxtapose what appears to be the placelessness of these images with their embedded institutional ecologies to explore the multiple temporalities and mediations of identity.

We are looking for research-based submissions of both “artless photographs” and documentation of their production processes.  This may include ethnographic vignettes, audio or video recordings, and/or photographs.

We are particularly interested in medical and scientific imaging (CT scans, MRI, histology, x-rays, forensic photography), government and institutional identification imaging (driver’s licenses, passport photos, criminal booking photographs, biometric measurements), and commercial and media images (stock photography, photojournalism), but are open to submissions beyond these areas, as well.

The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2012.

Each submission should include a pdf cover sheet with the following information:

1)     The author/artist/anthropologist’s name, institutional affiliation, and contact information;

2)     A brief 250-word statement explaining the collected materials and their relationship to the show;

3)     An annotated list of submission materials (photographs, audio files, vignettes, video, etc.) including file names and sizes and whether the submission is exhaustive or representative of a larger body of work;

4)     A statement affirming that the author/artist/anthropologist has the right to exhibit the included work.

All video footage, audio recordings, photographic images, and ethnographic vignettes should be submitted as files or links (dropbox) with this cover sheet via email to If your materials do not fit into a single email, please send them via dropbox and include the corresponding link to the public file.  Please note that at this initial stage of the process, we do not need high-resolution images. 

Please contact the show curators, Stephanie Sadre-Orafai,, or Lee Douglas,, with questions or for more information.

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