Moving Forward: the Future of Photography

December 15 - January 8

Several years ago members of the Gallery began to think about how to commemorate our first fifty years, and the @50 Committee was formed. One of the things that committee spoke about were possible Gallery-wide exhibitions. The first “Looking Back: Soho Photo’s First 50 Years” showcased our history and the second “Picturing New York” celebrated our connection to the City.

But we also turned some of our thinking towards the future. This became reflected in the @50 tag line: “Looking Back - Moving Forward.” Former member Larry Davis proposed a third and final competition - for young photographers. At that point things clicked: we would begin the year with a show for current and former members of the Gallery showing pieces that had been exhibited in the Gallery over the 50 years. And during that exhibition period present a panel of the founders as they reflected on the Gallery’s origins. And we would End the year with a competition for young photographers, from 13 to 30 years old - perhaps our future members.

The spring interns seized on the idea of the competition and worked to iron out the details. The summer interns concentrated on developing lists of photography and art schools and instructors whom we would contact to share the opportunity of the competition. They also crafted the announcement. The fall interns helped send out hundreds of announcements and assisted in jurying. Finally, the spring interns returned to finish what they started; judging, organizing, and curating the show.

Intern Anika Boduch writes –

  • For us, Moving Forward represents a vision of the future; the new generation of photographers. This show is a gathering of diverse visions and backgrounds with one commonality, the camera. It’s a show that commemorates the past practices of the photographic image while putting on display new methods of visual storytelling.
  • The 13 to 30 age bracket was essential to us; we wanted to give young artists what is likely to be their first opportunity to show their work to an audience, especially in a gallery setting. Our goal was to remove the usual barriers to entry that deter younger artists from applying to opportunities like this one, and we succeeded. We had over 100 photographers apply, with a good amount under 18.
  • However, their ages no longer mattered when it came to jurying the applicants. We judged every applicant the same and found overwhelmingly that the artist's age did not impact the quality of their work. Across ages, we see both explorations in photographic techniques, including the explorative use of image editing software, and a return to darkroom experimentation.
  • Though the subject matter and approach vary, what remains consistent is the photographer exploring how they relate to the world around them. What has come up especially are themes of identity, how artists relate to the physical world around them, and a dive into the abstract.
  • We're very excited and beyond grateful for the opportunity to close out the @50 celebration. We hope our show gives everyone a taste of a possible future for the gallery as we look at the next 50 years.

This exhibition runs from December 14 to January 8. It marks an important new step for the Gallery: it is the first time we have mounted a competition judged by and curated by young people, and featuring the work of young people. We are excited by this new direction the Gallery is taking. And we hope that it will succeed in bringing the Gallery to the attention of an entirely new group of photographers – people who are photography’s future.