EUROPEAN TOUR (NAPOLI), The Art of Editing: Day 2

Today was the second official day of the PWNY European Tour; a series of workshops that will take us to Naples, Catania, Paris, Berlin and Warsaw with photographers Stefano De LuigiJessica Backhaus, Michael AckermanAdam Panczuk and program directors Kate Fowler & Laura De Marco.

Day 1 of The Art of Editinga workshop taught by Kate Fowler & Laura De Marco in Naples, Italy, began with a short documentary that follows Bruce Gilden as he photographs in the chaotic and cramped streets of Manhattan. After yesterday’s long debate on authorship, the notion of objectivity and the complex relationships between subject and photographer– we thought this would be a good way to get students talking about the different ways we engage while taking photographs. After spending some time talking about his style and the confluence of visual languages that we had discussed yesterday (Diane Arbus, bare flash, Weegee) and talking briefly about news photography in Italy and Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others, we jumped directly into watching the multi-media version of Jim Goldberg’s Raised by Wolves. After moments of silence, we began an hour long discussion about whether his work seemed more objective than pure journalism– through the handprint of the author and subject– or if the aesthetics made it feel significantly more subjective. We also debated about the distinct stylization and whether it added to the potency to the project and the story, or detracted.

We talked for a long time about Mark Strandquist’s project Some Other Places We’ve Missed– a great example of eschewing highly stylized imagery for simplicity, clarity and the impact of words and personal histories. We got into a heated a debate and found ourselves discussing socio-economics in Italy before realizing how incredible it was that a project based in the United States led us into a discussion about immigration in Europe, government housing and the industrialization of prisons.

Before the workshop began we asked students to collect ephemera– objects from their life, found photos, archival imagery and childhood snapshots– to share. Mid-way through the day we collected all of the images and broke the class into three groups. Each group was given an assorted stack of their combined photographs and asked to ‘edit’ a story, using sequencing to re-contextualize their personal mementoes. After creating the sequence, we asked them to title the project and write a brief statement.  After lunch, we came back and discussed each group’s edit. The first group created a project that could be interpreted in any order, without any sequential emphasis. The second created a spiral shape that led viewers through the life of an anonymous woman. The third created a linear sequence with one powerful image, placed at the end.

Preceding this exercise we looked at the portfolio’s of Vittorio, Maria Grazia and Sabrina and created strategies for developing their projects. The class edited Vittorio’s images and experimented with different ways of pairing and scale. We discussed ways to make Maria Grazia’s project on zoos into a thesis and talked with Sabrina about a long-term project she’s been creating on a local experimental music collective. After an exhausting day of interrogating images and discussing photography, we finished the evening by looking at the student’s assignments from the day before.

We’re deeply proud of our amazing class and their passionate debates and ability to engage with photography deeply. Tomorrow is the final day of our workshop and we’ll close this amazing trip to Napoli with a party at Tribunali 138 to celebrate the hard work of our students.

Check back tomorrow for updates on our final day!

Many of the images shown here are taken with a Leica M, thanks to an incredibly generous sponsorship from Leica Store Firenze! The incredible workshop space, Tribunali 138, has been provided by photographer Luciano Ferrara. We’re incredibly lucky to have Roberta Fuorvia as our Italian Coordinator– without her, none of this would have been possible, as well as our wonderful translator and friend Arthur Muselli.