Close Enough The show is generous It speaks directly to
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Close Enough: “The show is generous. It speaks directly to practitioners”

Exploring the possibilities of photography has been at Magnum’s heart since its inception. Founded in 1947 in the shadow of World War Two, the agency marked the alliance of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger and David Seymour, bound by their curiosity in photography and the world. Storytelling was central from the beginning. The show’s title playfully rifts off Capa’s famous saying: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.“ The quote evokes the idea of an intrepid documentarian, an image to which Magnum is bound despite not being entirely accurate then or now. “If you think about the photographic spectrum within Magnum, it’s always surprising that it’s still dominated by Robert Capa on one end, with frontline, photojournalistic work, and Cartier-Bresson on the other, with more formal concerns expressed in street photography,“ says Meiselas. “But, between those two, my male and female colleagues take more diverse approaches with their photography.“

Today’s collective remains an amorphous entity with a greatly expanded membership for whom Capa’s charge will mean many things. In the show’s context, one might interpret ‘close enough’ as remaining an ethos of sorts. But one with different connotations: relating to an intangible photographer-subject relationship, as opposed to the physical proximity of the camera. A sense of relationality snakes through the exhibition present within each project. It also emerges between the photographers themselves: three generations of women who belong, or have belonged, to the collective. As Meiselas reflects, “What has interested me as the bridge between the earlier culture of women in Magnum – Eve Arnold, Inge Morath, Marilyn Silverstone, Martine Franck, and myself – and this new generation, is how they see the world differently. It’s not to say that there aren’t men within Magnum and outside our community who develop extended relationships like these. The show was not conceived to exclude men, but rather to be inclusive of women and allow them to reveal the kinds of connections that they have in their work as they interface in dialogue with each other.“

Meiselas is joined by Olivia Arthur, Myriam Boulos, Sabiha Çimen, Cristina de Middel, Bieke Depoorter, Carolyn Drake, Nanna Heitmann, Hannah Price, Lua Ribeira, Alessandra Sanguinetti and Newsha Tavakolian. It would be impossible to do justice to the individual projects here, but to learn more from several of the participating artists, listen to discussions, co-produced by Magnum and British Journal of Photography, here.

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