Face It: Photography, Ethics, and Identity in the Age of the Selfie


Anna Shteynshleyger, Apple Girl, 2003. Archival pigment print, 40 x 50 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI)
"Face It: Photography, Ethics, and Identity in the Age of the Selfie"

Saturday, June 21, 2014, 9am–5pm

San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI)
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94133


San Francisco Art Institute is pleased to announce the 2014 Summer Symposium—"Face It: Photography, Ethics, and Identity in the Age of the Selfie." Bringing together a diverse group of artists and scholars, the symposium considers the ethics of photography and identity in a world of incessant and instantaneous images.

Social media prompts us to put ourselves on display, textually and photographically. We share ourselves with strangers and friends, perpetually documenting not only life's milestones but its quotidian moments as well. This obsession may blur—or sharpen—the lines between the authentic versus performed, enacted versus documented. The life examined becomes the life lived on screen.

SFAI's Summer Symposium considers this contemporary condition, asking: How does social media complicate the relationship between action/event/self and image? What are the political implications and ethical obligations of this relationship? How do current art practices refract, resist, or incorporate the ubiquity of images and connectedness? What exactly does "photography" mean today?

Keynote address: Martin A. Berger

Since the 19th century, photography has been lauded for its power to engage audiences and promote social change. Photography, we are told, moves us to feel and, ultimately, act by granting us access to people and conditions outside of our day-to-day experiences. In allowing us to make emotional connections with other human beings, photography has long been seen as a vehicle for pushing us toward more ethical positions. This talk considers the historical investment of theorists, photographers, and members of the public in photography's purported power to engage its audiences and catalyze progressive social change.

Dr. Martin A. Berger is Professor in History of Art and Visual Culture, and Associate Dean of the Arts Division at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of Seeing Through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography and Sight Unseen: Whiteness and American Visual Culture, both from University of California Press.

Aziz + Cucher, guest faculty and artists in residence, Low-Residency MFA in Studio Art
Liz Cohen
Ken Goldberg
Alexis Hudgins
Miki Johnson
Patricia Lange
Anna Shteynshleyger

Pre-symposium event: Anna Shteynshleyger
Friday, June 20

Anna Shteynshleyger explores the complexities of contemporary identity through photography, uncovering psychological and social terrain through intensely personal images of individuals and communities.
About the San Francisco Art Institute

Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in the practice and study of contemporary art. As a diverse community of working artists and scholars, SFAI provides its students with a rigorous education in the fine arts and preparation for a life in the arts through an immersive studio environment, an integrated liberal arts and art history curriculum, and critical engagement with the world. Committed to educating artists who will shape the future of art, culture, and society, SFAI fosters creativity and original thinking in an open, experimental, and interdisciplinary context.

SFAI strongly believes that a rigorous artistic and intellectual community is enriched by diversity and inclusion. SFAI promotes artistic and intellectual freedom by fostering environments that value our diverse students, faculty, and staff and provide all community members with a respectful and challenging space in which to address divergent opinions and ideas. The full SFAI Diversity Statement can be found at sfai.edu/sfai-diversity-statement.

SFAI offers BFA and BA degrees, MFA (academic year and summer options) and MA degrees, a dual MA/MFA degree, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, and a range of continuing education and public programs. The institution enrolls approximately 680 students in the degree programs and employs 21 full-time tenure/tenure-track faculty, five emeriti faculty, and some 150 part-time faculty. Notable past faculty and alumni include Lance Acord, Ansel Adams, Kathryn Bigelow, Enrique Chagoya, Angela Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Paul Kos, George Kuchar, Annie Leibovitz, Barry McGee, Catherine Opie, Peter Pau, and Kehinde Wiley.