Panel Discussion at Chroma

Last week, I attended a panel discussion at Chroma called Reframing Pluralism in Contemporary Photography. There were 5 panelists: Darius HimesDeborah Willis , Carla Williams, Pato Hebert and Miriam Romais. The moderator was Diedre Visser.

For some reason, I thought the discussion would center around the core definition of pluralism but it was more of a conversation about the different avenues in which we can move pluralism forward in contemporary photography.

The photographic world as we once knew it continues to shift. The digital innovations to our photographic tools and the ability to share our images through social media has led this change. No one holds the crystal ball that could predict what the future holds but it was good to listen to a variety of opinions. I left with more questions to ponder.

Pato pointed out that it is easier more than ever for artists to be able to create and disseminate their work online. However, he also lamented that the work can also get lost because of this democratic accessibility.

Darius spoke about the changes in traditional publishing. He noted the growth of independent publishers in the last several years who are producing smaller book editions. But then he also questions how these books can be accessed in the future when museums and libraries are slowly disappearing.

Darius Himes and Pato Hebert.

Miriam brought up the question on how to sustain the work. (She was referring to organizations like En Foco). Her lingering concern was about succession. How do we carry the work forward? How do we get the younger generation to participate?

Deborah spoke of the dangers of having only a single narrative. We are a cross cultural nation and there is not one story but many others. She encouraged the audience to stay true to themselves, find their own voice at the same being open to many points of view.

Deborah Willis and Miriam Romais.

What really stuck with me was what Carla said about being open to talking about photography and work in a normal way to family, friends and community. Often times, they do not understand we are doing and our tendency is to be silent or hide it from them as if they didn't exist (this particularly rings true with me). In order to foster support, there is a need for the artist to expose and be open about this part of their life.

Deirdre Visser, Carla Williams and Darius Himes.