NOTES & COMMENTS
CENTRO PER LA CULTURA NELLA FOTOGRAFIA
Advancement on the cultural front of photography seems to be growing rapidly in Europe. And the Center for Culture in Photography seems to be the most recent organization to be added to the groups we already know something about: Combined Societies in England, "fotoform" in Germany, Group 16 in France, Unione Fotografica in Italy.
All of these groups have broken from the pictorialist traditions and take as their aim some degree of personal expression. And, depending on how one defines "pictorialism" they have either broken from it, or are setting up a new one. Using the Focal Encyclopedia definition which says in effect that those who are more interested in manner than in subject matter are pictorialists, it seems fairly certain that any other destiny than a new pictorialism is impossible. The Photo-Secessionists at the beginning of the century were certainly a lively creative group ; and now it is beginning to took as if the Subjektivists will be equally so. There is nothing wrong with pictorialism that I can see; when a new creative surge swells up in it, pictures get exciting, when a certain style of pictorialism is taken over by the camera clubs it gets imitative.
Of the various groups mentioned the Center for Culture in Photography seems the most promising of the lot because its program is ambitious and extends far beyond a collection of photographers who have banded together to create an outlet for their work. The C.C.F., according to a recent announcement, is a cultural organization, established in 1954 by a group of intellectuals, photographers, writers, newspaper men and artists. Its main office is in Fermo, Italy, its president Luigi Crocenzi, its foreign representatives the editors of several photographic magazines in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland.
The main purpose is to study and propagate photography, using it as an instrument of cultural diffusion.
The scope is obviously big, here are some of their plans:
"The C.C.F. has made studies and works about the photographic language and the real possibilities of using photography as a cultural means. Many sections [meaning various countries] are cooperating as follows: History of Photography — Historical studies — Literature and Photography — Cinema and Photography — Photography and figurative arts — Reportage as history of modern man-—Photography in modern printing — Photography as popular language—Photography and science, technics, architecture, pedagogy, sociology, ethnology — Criticism of photobook, photoreportage and popular photography."
Among various books and exhibits now under way, there are plans for a quarterly, to be called "Popular Image.” Since part of the C.C.F. activity is to spread photography positively, groups have been formed in several European cities, mainly in Italy, but London and Lisbon are included. These C.C.F. Groups of Study, as they are called, are organized in universities and various cultural clubs and include intellectuals, writers, and photographers. C.C.F. also has a scheme to establish Popular Photography Clubs. These appear to be little different than the current variety except for a broadening of standards and a decided change of emphasis from the pictorial to the behavioristic. By this is meant photographs of the life around us. And the aim is the high goal of bettering, thereby, life itself.
[Interesting that Dorothea Lange, who has been shouting this idea from the house tops for years has just completed a seminar based on photographing the life around us — at the California School of Fine Arts.]
C.C.F. also has a plan to spread photography in schools, which, while no details of their plan are given, could be useful in helping to create an intelligent audience for photographs. An enlightened audience could be expected to be an improvement on two fronts: it will demand better photographs than it now gets, and also be able to "read" or understand subtleties of photography as a language which will make it possible for the photographer to communicate more complex statements than now.
As can be seen the program is large, covers much of the territory occupied by the Royal Photographic Society of Britain, hence it is a rival of the Royal. One wonders why the Royal, long the undisputed leader in matters photographic, should have fallen so far behind the times that a rival is necessary.
AUTUMN EXHIBITION OF PICTORIAL PHOTOGRAPHY 1957
The closing date for the submission of prints to this exhibit is the 9th of August. That is, prints have to be in the offices of the Royal Photographic Society at 16 Princes Gate, London S.W. 7, England, by that date.
The entry blanks may be had by writing the Secretary; the exhibit is open to anyone.
The entry blanks contain no statement of policy by any of the judges; so the only way we can find out whether they consider "pictorial” a large term embracing traditional pictorialist, well explored purist, current experimentalist, or lively photojournalist is to send pictures representing all styles of pictorialism rampant today.