The iconic photography agency Magnum has, for the first time in its history, opened its highly prestigious print archive to three contemporary practitioners for Magnum Photos who were assisted by the former Magnum Photos archivist, Nick Galvin; the three were visual anthropologist Elizabeth Edwards, artist Uriel Orlow and photographer Hannah Starkey. Who were invited to reinterpret how social, cultural and political inclinations have shaped the content of the archive.
Magnum Photos was formed in 1947 as a photography collective, and built its global reputation on representing photographers and preserving their authorship and creative control. Over its 67-year history the collective generated a rich archive of material that in the pre-digital age, was the mainstay of its image licensing business. The current archive has now moved from analogue to digital and is online comprised of over 600,000 images.
Edwards, Orlow and Starkey chose 130 rarely seen photographs from 68,000 resin prints as a complex history of photography from 1950 and 1995. These images were chosen through visual intuition. The twenty-five photographers whose work is presented in ‘Magnum Photos: One Archive, Three Views’ – include Abbas, Eve Arnold, Ian Berry, Rene Burri, Elliott Erwitt, Stuart Franklin, Leonard Freed,David Hurn, Peter Marlow, Inge Morath, Martin Parr, Chris Steele-Perkins and David “Chim” Seymour.
Edwards has chosen works incorporating people absorbed in their worlds, making sense of that experience, often those in which the action lies beyond the frame. Starkey’s interest in the female perspective and how work is subsequently engendered has resulted in an intimate narrative linked across the decades in photographs. Her selection is chosen from a period in Magnum’s history when women accounted for only five per cent of the photographers they represented. Orlow’s interdisciplinary practice teases out the blindspots of history in the margins of crisis presenting juxtapositions of images that though they depict vastly different events.
Formed in 1947 as a photography collective, Magnum Photos built its global reputation on representing photographers and preserving their authorship and creative control. Over its 67-year history Magnum photographers generated a rich archive of prints and material that in the pre-digital age, was the mainstay of its image licensing business. Magnum’s archive has now moved from analogue to digital and its online archive comprises over 600,000 images.