The Society of the Spectacle

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“Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.” Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (1967)

The 2017 edition of Malmö Fotobiennal celebrates 50 years since the release of the essay “The Society of the Spectacle” by French philosopher Guy Debord. Debord devoted his essay to understand the structure in which we are living in, where the social relations are interpolated by a society of representations, the being is replaced into having and appearing. To be is to consume, and the images serve as a mediator of the spectacle. We take his work and his concepts as a starting point for Malmö Fotobiennal 2017, an attempt to understand how these ideas would apply to the use of photography today.

In addition to acknowledging the 50-year anniversary, we aim to problematize the power, the authenticity and the message carried by the photographic image. Another goal is to update the features and role of photography in society today. How are visual artists representing a society in transformation?

To some extend, photography use the language or draw on conventions of advertising, revealing the often darker underside of the promises of perfection embedded in much of our popular culture, from televisions show to music, and magazines to supermarkets. In the 1980s, a number of artist drew on the socialpolitical disillusionment around them, sing their media-tinged artwork as a filter through which ”real life” was delivered.

Photography, film and the media do conveyed a scenic view of reality but today, virtual messages, display, simulation and false news images turned to be the normal and almost becoming truthful. As we upload our embellished pictures, we contribute ourselves to cement the prevailing social norms. We are creating and sharing our own spectacle.

We encourage artists, filmmakers and photographers to freely interpret the theme during our “open call”. We also welcome all the galleries, institutions and museums in Malmö, Skåne and Oresund to sign up and contribute with their own perspectives and exhibitions to be included in this year’s program and catalogue.

Michel Thomas
Head of the board/Malmö Fotobiennal 2017
9 – 18 June 2017
The Society of the Spectacle

Link to the embedded film


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