Photography is the technique of capturing permanent images with a camera, through the photochemical action of light or other forms of radiant energy, and then reproducing them on special paper.

Photography fulfills an important documentary or journalistic role in our days, since it  allow to capture real images and reproduce them in physical or digital media , thus being able Journalism, science and history are inseparable from photography today, and photo albums or picture frames were available in any 20th century home. the opportunity to capture and enlarge the image of extremely distant or infinitely small objects .

What is left when everything has already been photographed?

When decades of photographic recordings seem to have exhausted every subject, every imaginable staging and every possible viewing angle? What remains when reality seems exhausted from having been reduplicated? There remains the photograph itself. The Center Pompidou chooses to exhibit the fruit of these questions through nearly eighty works and documents, crossing the history of photography and the work of great figures of modern and contemporary art.

Since the avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s, artists have questioned the photographic medium itself to try to understand its quality or its specificity. “The essence of the modern mind,” wrote the American critic Clement Greenberg, “is defined by the use of certain methods specific to a discipline to criticize that discipline itself, not with a subversive aim, but in order to determine exactly its areas of expertise “. The artists of pop art, conceptual art and postmodernism have taken this questioning of photography on itself further. It was less a question of defining the medium’s field of competence in order to ensure its legitimacy in the concert of the arts than of questioning the idea that we now had of it. In the contemporary period,

From the 1920s to the beginning of the 21st century, from Man Ray to Jeff Wall, via Ugo Mulas, this exhibition brings together works that all have in common to ask the same question: “What is photography?” ? It is sometimes the photographers themselves who feel the need to question themselves about what they are doing and to propose a form of synthesis of their art, sometimes the historians, the theorists, or simply the viewers who perceive in a photograph incidentally produces a manifest value. The answers can be technical, essentialist, or metaphorical. For some, photography is a point of view, a frame, or a material. For others, it is defined by a look, a certain sensitivity to light or shadows. For still others, it is a gap, a fixation of time,

For nearly a century, artists and theorists have tried to define the ontology of the photographic medium, that is, its very essence. The formal as well as conceptual diversity of the works shown in the exhibition testifies to the question “What is photography?” », We cannot provide a single answer. Thus, behind a title that pretends to be part of the tradition of attempts at definitive definitions of photography, the exhibition offers exactly the opposite: an anti-ontology.

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