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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Visioneer's Gallery: Arbiter Of Communication

ICP’s new Executive Director Mark Lubell on the continuing mission of the organization amid the ongoing flood of image-making worldwide

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Long before social networks became the moderators of our collective experience of photography, there have been physical institutions without whose dedication to the art and narrative of contemporary and archival photography we may not have evolved to a cultural landscape where photography would be accepted as the preferred global medium for communicating the most intimate, political and esoteric of all experiences. Individual photographers, photo collectives, fine-art institutions, scholars and academic institutions have for decades challenged, defined and shaped the nuances and technologies of the photography field, immensely contributing to and enhancing the platforms on which photography could be created and shared with the public at large.

No institution can stake a higher claim to the public dissemination and social experience of curated photography through a combination of academic training, archiving, exhibiting and debating than the International Center of Photography in New York. Founded 40 years ago by Cornell Capa in memory of his brother, the notable Robert Capa, the ICP has been the world's leading institution dedicated to the "discipline of photography and the reproduced image in all of its forms, bringing new image-makers to a passionate and inspired global audience through a continual offering of exhibitions, educational programs and community outreach."

Cornell Capa coined the phrase "concerned photographer" to describe photography created to affect social change—and this vision still defines the ICP. The tools of photography are evolving rapidly, but image-making retains its key role in documentation, memory and storytelling. Its role is to be an arbiter of this conversation about meaning and communication—a central place for discourse about the image in our culture.

The ICP is going through one of its most remarkable transitions since its founding. Their new Executive Director Mark Lubell hails from Magnum Photos (an agency cofounded by Robert Capa incidentally), where he served as the director for seven years. Under his leadership, the ICP is defining the role it will play in a world that's experiencing an unprecedented avalanche in image-making.

"There are 880 billion images taken in one year. We're all documenting and taking pictures through these new vehicles. But who's making sense of that? You still need to have a professional eye being an arbiter of this communication, and that's the role that I see ICP playing," states Lubell. "The conversation today has drastically changed—how people are documenting, how people are communicating with one another and receiving information, and how people are creating. I believe it's important for ICP to engage these new tools, understand, explore, ask questions about them, and have that public discourse, but in a slightly different manner than they have done in the past."

This understanding of the changing global culture of visual communication forms the basis of Lubell's strategic vision for the ICP, addressing questions of how the ICP will connect with people in the new virtual "social sphere." The change also includes a dramatic move away from their current location to a new possibly larger space in which training and exhibitions are made available on a larger platform.


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