#22 Group Dynamics
Photography is often described as a solitary pursuit, but this issue of Photography+ considers photographers working in groups, including collectives, co-operatives, schools, and local communities. Included image-makers currently working on projects in the UK, the US, Botswana, and Russia, it also includes three women who helped co-found the Format Photographers Agency, a woman-only collective that operated from London from 1983-2003.
Collective projects are currently fashionable, as the renewed interest in Format’s archive shows. The Format photographers are honest about some of the difficulties of working this way, but they also eloquently explain it can be stronger – from practical advantages such as sharing kit or bargaining power, to the psychological boost of sharing with like-minded people who’ve got your back. For Botswana’a Banana Club collective the latter is crucial, providing Queer and underrepresented artists with access to kit and advice but also a safe space to be.
For Almudena Romero, meanwhile, London’s often-maligned Thamesmead estate has provided an unexpectedly warm sense of community, chiming with her sense that actually, we’re never truly alone. For Romero, photographers and people in general are always part of a wider grouping, and that includes the environment as well as other people. ‘In Western philosophy we think of the mind as detached from the body and separate from the community,’ she says. ‘But in other cultures it’s assumed that the community and your environment are part of you.’
Each issue we ask the Photography+ community to submit photographs, and this time we asked readers for work relating to the theme Group Dynamics. We are delighted to publish the selected image, Psychotronic War by Sergey Novikov and Max Sher.
Psychotronic War comes from Novikov and Sher’s series Infrastructures, 2016-19, which they published as a book in 2019. A research project about the Russian and post-Soviet political economy, Infrastructures uses documentary, staged photography, and text to reflect on the significance of physical infrastructure such as roads and pipelines. It also encompasses the unseen institutions, practices, and processes that underpin thinking and discourse around the State and power, however, proposing that seemingly disparate phenomena are actually linked in a wider system of cultural and political infrastructure.