50JPG Triennial (50 Jours pour la photographie à Genève/50 Days of Photography in Geneva) was originally conceived in 2003 as a way of presenting multiple photography shows in and around Geneva. For its 5th iteration in 2016, the 50JPG Triennial was organized around a common theme and featured a majority of works connected to the main exhibition, caméra(auto)contrôle. Of those 34 shows mounted in art centres, museums, public collections, art schools, commercial galleries, self-managed spaces, and other venues, 50JPG included 19 exhibitions that were related to the overarching theme. The Triennial had never brought together so many photography shows over so vast an area, running from Pully to Annecy.
Since then the Department of culture and sport of the City of Geneva has launched a photography biennial called No’Photo which pursues the same objective, i.e., to increase the number of photography exhibitions taking place over a limited timeframe in the City of Geneva.
Acting under the same auspices, yet striving to avoid merely duplicating the other initiative, we thought that now was indeed the time to rethink 50JPG. The true core of the event, the main thematic show put together by CPG at the Bâtiment d’art contemporain and in its own galleries as well as those of Commun, has been preserved with its openness to moving images, as in the earlier iterations of the Triennial. Now, however, the festival is looking to forge connections with new partners around the selected theme. Thus, the 6th Triennial has seen joint initiatives with other institutions taking shape around other forms of artistic expression, be it film, song, scientific research, music, even cooking, all tied together around this year’s theme, OSMOSCOSMOS (Eros and cosmos). The urge to focus Eros simply on the gaze would have been a heresy indeed, given that Eros mobilises all our senses.
Until now, adhering to CPG’s line of programming, 50JPG had tackled societal questions touching on politics, economics, and the social. On the face of it, Eros and cosmos seem a far cry from those concerns. And yet, the show’s starting point is indeed the final avant-garde movements of the 1970s, the post-avant gardes, which profoundly questioned the role of gender in the patriarchal and postcolonial societies of our Western world. Their demands in terms of the self-determination of the individual’s sexuality continue to fuel debates today, all the more so after #metoo. And if the actions playing out in the depths of the universe have (for now) no political effect, the cosmos, Earth’s near neighbour really, has become a political issue, which was demonstrated once again recently with the landing on the Moon of a probe by the People’s Republic of China. The legal framework for activities in space contains a number of flaws. Several of the rules remain vague and easy to bypass, and are adapting poorly to the rapid changes of technology. Eros and cosmos are political themes and OSMOSCOSMOS is presenting these dream objects in that regard as well.
Director of the Centre de la photographie Genève