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April 2011

In the world of photography the word "staging" has always had a bad resonance. It was as if underlining a betrayal. In fact, those who turned against the figurative version of contemporary photography castigated, at least initially, the creation of a photograph, that is, the staging of a photograph, in contradiction to the "cleaner" – in their words – photographic testimony. Thus, they overlooked the most essential slips of artistic photography, which "staging" reveals but does not give birth to.

The word "staging" in this respect is not only used in its technical sense, but also includes every personal intervention. Thus, it is easily perceived that the contestation in question is not only pointless, but also tends to recant the essence of every artistic act, and, even further, to overlook any sense of personal involvement in the facts of life.

In other words, if we do not accept that one stages, at least in part, one’s life, then there is no room for artistic creation, or any form of creation in general. All actions that are linked to the large existential axes become important through staging. This is something that religions – the greatest directors of history – were the first to understand and adopt. Indeed, one should not be misled into dismissing staging as hypocrisy and bringing them into supposed conflict with the act being staged. No act has meaning outside its staging. In fact, if we follow the reverse course through cinema, where the presence of staging is largely vindicated, we will see that exactly the same story may pass unnoticed or be projected, depending on the staging. Greatest moments in our life are accompanied by the rules and devices of staging. Varying from a love confession to funerals and memorial services, a person either adopts applied forms of staging or invents new ones, even when under the illusion that he/she denies them.

It is understandable that a photograph is accompanied by the myth of the neutrality and objectivity of the person handling the photographic tools. However, this myth, which is without doubt justified by the nature of these tools as well as by the role of photography in our culture, should be the basis and aid for the selection of the photograph’s staging devices rather than their denial, which is in any case unfeasible. In fact, this is the point on which any juxtaposition with so-called art photographers should focus.

The entire process of producing a photograph, from taking the shot until exhibiting, passing through developing, is not just marked by but is literally born through (in the widest sense) the staging choices of the photographer, who is thus entitled and justified to call himself the creator of the photograph. The degree and the quality of staging will reveal his personal identity behind or – even better – through the work.

Our staging choices can come from external factors or from within us. However, in both cases the starting point is consciously external and unconsciously internal. This is where the balance and consequently the quality and effectiveness of our staging presence are judged. The fact, for example, that a photograph describes with precision is imposed externally but should obey an internal perception and need in order to lead us to the right choices. Fortunately, this is why staging reveals us or betrays us. Without it, however, there is no work of art.