Jorge Ribalta, curator of the internationally acclaimed exhibition UNIVERSAL ARCHIVE. The Condition of the Document and the Modern Photographic Utopia, at the Museu D’Art Contemporani de Barcelona/MACBA, walks us through this exhibition, which is nothing short of revolutionary in its scope and reflections on the major movements and micro‐histories of photography. Through montage and dialectical juxtaposition of images Ribalta raises some of the most burning questions facing documentary media today.

The exhibition brings together nearly 2,000 documents dating from 1851 to 2008 by some 250 photographers. Though the first photograph in the display dates back to 1851 and the last to 2008, making its historical spectrum as broad as the very history of photography, the exhibition does not attempt to present an exhaustive and chronological encyclopaedic archive of photography, but rather sets out to trace the possible genealogies of the photographic document and their conflicts. The resulting constellation of narratives offers surprises, tensions and overlaps, aimed at bringing about a rethinking of the role of photography today.

Jorge Ribalta (Barcelona, 1963) is an artist, critic and curator, who has worked for over 20 years on important photographic exhibitions in Spain and other parts of Europe. He has enjoyed solo exhibitions of his own work in New York, Paris and Barcelona while also curating widely, most recently including Jo Spence. Beyond the Perfect Image. Photography, Subjectivity, Antagonism (MACBA, Barcelona, and Camera Austria, Graz, 2005), Manolo Laguillo (MACBA, Barcelona, 2007) and Universal Archive.

Kodak Lecture Series: Jorge Ribalta (PDF 182KB)