Janus. Photography's Double Face. Works from the Permanent Collection

9 october, 2007 - 30 december, 2007 /
Nouvel Building, Floor 1

During the last fifteen years, photography has gained a renewed vitality thanks in part to its use by many artists who do not call themselves photographers, but simply use this medium to build and develop a new artistic syntax. Since conceptual artists in the Sixties began to use photography to document and register, or as a contributing element, in their projects, actions and performances, this medium began to change the direction the discipline itself had imposed. In this way it freed itself from formal ties and orientated itself in other directions, until becoming a new artistic path along which different ways of critical thinking of reality circulated. The emergence in the mid-sixties of cibachrome, which introduced sizes and colour qualities hitherto unknown, and the recent shift from analogue to digital photography has opened technical possibilities reminiscent of the experiments that took place between 1834 and 1851, a key time in the origins of photography.

Janus. Photography's Double Face takes its name from the Roman mythological god represented by two faces looking in opposite directions and which symbolises change and transition. The name has been used as a metaphor for the transformation of photography, displayed in a series of dichotomies: analogue/digital, negative/positive, monochrome/colour, reality/fiction, creation/manipulation, documentary/art. The exhibition collects snapshots by 33 authors that have been taken over the last twenty years and which belong to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía Collection, many of which have been acquired only recently and have hardly ever been exhibited in public. This exhibition aims to reflect not only the new paradigm emerging from contemporary art, but also the way in which it has been incorporated into the same Collection.

The chosen photographs are not about social documentary or identity or stereotypes, all common themes in contemporary photography, but deal with the structures of power in the contemporary world, their importance, how they work and how they affect humans.

The sample has been divided into three thematic sections that converge in the critical eye of the various artists: Arquitectura: poder y política, (Architecture: power and politics), El paisaje: poder y progreso, (The landscape: power and progress), Personas: El poder interior (People: The power within). A political dimension runs through them and connects them with the audience.