1 Novembro a 21 Dezembro


OPENING | 1 de Novembro 2019, às 19h00
ON DISPLAY | November 2 - December 1, 2019

Zaratan is thrilled to preset I-Stock, an anonymous multimedia exhibition. In proposing a series of digital paintings that are in fact reproductions of stock photographs taken from the Internet, it references the discourse of the status of commercial images in contemporary art practices.

As photography experiences a crisis in defining itself as an artistic medium in the digital age, these processes of appropriation seem to sound truer, more authentic, and more relevant if associated with the ways photography works in the world today.

If we are to consider a definitive aesthetic of stock photography, its archetypal photograph would be described as specifically commercial, where the image is carefully composed, artificially lit, with vivid colors and a consciousness of its planning and orchestrated outcome. It is inherently fluid and malleable as an object of graphic design, immediately interchangeable from an archive of similar options that can be applied to a myriad of contexts accordingly. Because stock photography is intended to be vague enough to relate to different kinds of commercial outlets, the image is constructed to symbolize universal values and neutral positions. In this way, stock photography is inherently quiet, un-arresting, and meant to serve as a background or filler. On the one hand, stock photography represents a culmination of what the medium traditionally aspired to be as a specialized practice, one that is iconic and produced in a professional manner, with careful attention to lighting, exposure, and composition. At the same time, it is also the death of its aspirations as a fine art medium, resulting in an aesthetic that is dull, redundant, uninspired, and un-hierarchical in nature.

In one sense, the examination of stock photography proposed by I-Stock insinuate an inherently pessimistic critique, albeit a very silent one at that, recognizing the crisis of photography, where the aesthetic value of the image is a product of the commercial domain.We have reached a point where the endless reproduction of the same is all we have left, and they quietly mimic its visual tropes. Their critique goes beyond Guy Debord’s concept of spectacle, a social and political theory that examined the effects of a society oversaturated in media images. Such a discourse that follows an ultimately Marxist critique (and potential emancipation) seems to no longer apply in this advanced stage of our image-based society. For these projects, it is about the ambivalent space between the viewer recognizing the image’s aesthetic value as a product of a commercial domain and negotiating how this intersects in a highly conceptualized art reception.


Curated by Zaratan, "I-Stock" is the second chapter of a cycle of aesthetic experiments that aims to explore the boundaries of artistic institutions by promoting anonymous exhibitions by well-known artists. Beyond the complex layers of contemporary authorship, eponymia, and representation, anonymity has the potential to strengthen the aesthetic and cultural constellations of the individual viewer.