The times of photography

A talk with Boris Kossoy

7 February, 2014 - 7:00 p.m.
Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200

Every photographic image is a record obtained through the gaze of the photographer, an indivisible binomial established by the relationship between recording and creating. All along this process the image is composed and constructed technically, culturally, aesthetically and ideologically. However, much of the literature about this medium gives preference to theoretical reflections about the image as a sign and as writing, while ignoring the issues of its context and circulation. The work of the Brazilian Boris Kossoy is somewhere in the middle, in that it attempts to perceive the complexity of photography between representation and visual document.    

Trained with Pierre Francastel and influenced by the Annales School, Kossoy brings social history and the history of mentalities to the analysis of photography. His writings show the role of this medium in the construction of the nationalist imaginary among the early 20th century urban bourgeois, by means of an examination of postcards, official books and the birth of photojournalism in Brazil. His inquiry into the relationship between image and ideology is complemented by the study of censorship during his country’s Estado Novo dictatorship (1937-1945) and of the resistance front found in the anonymous, amateur photo archives. In short, Boris Kossoy is one of the most singular voices in the recent history of photography. This event will focus on his work, now available in Spanish for the first time.


Boris Kossoy. Photography theorist, historian, professor and curator. The author of many texts, especially important among them are his books Origens e expansao da fotografia no Brasil. Século XIX (1980), O olhar europeu. O negro na iconografia brasileira do século XIX (2002), Hercule Florence. El descubrimiento de la fotografía en Brasil (2004) and Lo efímero y lo perpetuo en la imagen fotográfica (2013).

Marie-Loup Sougez. Photography historian. She is the author of several essential studies, in both the dissemination and the research spheres, as shown by Historia de la fotografía (1988) and Albert-Louis Deschamps: fotógrafo en la guerra civil española (2003).

Horacio Fernández. Photography historian, professor and curator. Professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cuenca (Universidad de Castilla La Mancha), he has also been the artistic director of PhotoEspaña (in 2004 and 2005) and was the curator of Revelations. The history of the photobook in Latin America (Ivorypress Gallery, 2012) and Books that are photos, photos that are books (Library, Museo Reina Sofía, 2013).

Beatriz de las Heras. Film and photography historian. She is a Humanities professor at Universidad Carlos III in Madrid.