One of the most privileged and complex motives in the history of photography is the human face. Not only that – it has always been a heavily contested landscape, deeply invested in the aesthetic and ideological struggles concerning the nature of human beings, social class as well as its proper representation through the medium of photography. Photographs of the face, sometimes even understood as the “windows to the soul”, capture and freeze the otherwise fleeting extremes of facial expressions – the grimaces – the contortions, convulsions of the faces as the material tokens of joy, fear, and pain. By doing that, photography sets free “the optical unconsciousness” of the human face. Framing the grimaced face in the pictorial plane, photography at the same time frees it from its direct relation to the present and subjugates it through its photographic and ideological conventions (scientific and aesthetic apparatuses). The photographs of (grimaced) faces are nowadays ubiquitous and yet at the same time still bear the power of the uncanny, as if the incessant reproduction has never fully depleted its meaning nor blunted its unsettling – either ecstatic or thrilling – force.
We invite contributions that explore the relationship between photography and face/grimace from (but not limited to) the following perspectives:
expressiveness (facial contortions, extremes of emotions);
communicability of the human face;
social normativity and its inscription in the human face (normative facial features, the norm);
social control (facial recognition, digital forensics, phrenology, criminology, physiognomics);
inscription of identity (gender, styling, fashion and cosmetic industry);
contemporary media (expressive face and grimace in press photography);
the human face in the age of the digital (robotics and computer generated portraits);
photogenic (beauty/ugliness, charisma, power, beauty);
phantasmagorical (photomontage, composite portraits, creative photo-constructions);
face and grimace as part of communicative processes on social media (selfies, profile images, memes, avatars).
Format of contributions
Essays, theoretical papers, overview articles, interviews (approx. 14.000 characters with spaces)
Short essays, columns (approx. 6.000 characters with spaces)
For both length visuals encouraged
Proposal for publishing of relevant work of artists, photographers
Proposals and deadlines
Please contact the editors at editors(at)membrana.si. The deadline for contribution proposals is 15 June 2016. The deadline for finished contributions is 30 July 2016.
Membrana is a contemporary photography magazine dedicated to promoting a profound and theoretically grounded understanding of photography. Its aim is to encourage new, bold, and alternative conceptions of photography as well as new and bold approaches to photography in general. The magazine builds upon the long tradition of publishing the Slovenian language magazine Fotografija (published since 1997) as well as on the long tradition of the critical and investigative approach cherished by its editors.
Membrana publishes a wide range of contributions, ranging from interviews to theoretical articles, essays on contemporary photography, columns, regional portfolios, exhibition and book reviews. Positioning itself in the space between scholarly magazines and popular publications, it offers an open forum for critical reflection on the medium, presenting both analytical texts and quality visuals. The magazine is published bi-annually in the summer and winter in the English language by the Slovene non-profit institute Membrana.
Membrana, Maurerjeva 8, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia