While the crisis that took place in photojournalism during the 1960's brought about a significant shift in the practices, discourses and institutional structures of press photography, it also affected the practices of artists, specifically with regard to work devoted to revitalizing the depiction of events. The art world attempted to revitalize the historical genre by undertaking its critical rereading, in the spirit of restoring a tradition diminished by the mass media. The problem may be expressed in these terms: How can history be depicted, bearing in mind that the media (mainly photojournalism and the electronic press) have claimed a monopoly of the genre unto themselves? At issue is the sizeable problem of mass media omnipotence as an obligatory referential universe for historiographical artistic practices. Today, it seems impossible to depict the event in any way other than by accentuating or eschewing the formal attributes, rhetorical artifices, and ideological precepts of the mass media. These approaches to addressing historical moments have been examined in this article both because they epitomize contemporary historical writing and, for the most part, they constitute critical responses to stereotyped depictions of events. Above all, they represent a paradigm shift: the mass media's prerogatives for depicting historical moments has shifted towards the field of art. Contemporary depictions of catastrophe - crimes, sensationalist news items, terrorist attacks, humanitarian disasters, genocides - (common themes in many of the artistic projects represented in the 8th edition of the Mois de la Photo a Montreal} have been especially striking in this respect. For of all contemporary events, catastrophes are the most likely to be spontaneously propelled to the top of the news - roster and the most susceptible to the various inflections of contemporary art photography.
Subjects: Art & Art History
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