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M.: Triumph Gallery, 2015.
Academic editor: N. Ssorin-Chaikov, S. Gavrilova, K. Romanova.

This exhibition a programmatic one in the new sphere of what

we call social science art. It examines and displays research practices

of social sciences as both the subject and context of artistic reflection.

This is the first project in this new movement of contemporary art, and

its goal, in this instance, is an experiment in the area that Bruno Latour

named “flat ontology.” What does this all mean? On the one hand, the

exhibition includes ethnographic photographs from two regions along

the Volga River; on the other, these photographs are accompanied by

commentary by different social scientists. Latour’s notion of flat ontology

implies non-hierarchical relationship of scientific knowledge

and its subject as is explored in the anthropology of science1. In the

context of this art project, the same non-hierarchical relationship exists

between the photographs and the commentary. Research knowledge—

ethnographic (anthropological), sociological, economic, psychological,

political, philosophical, art-historical, and so on —is not placed above

the object of knowledge (the photographs). It is not an objective view

from the outside — a bird’s-eye view of the reality that we, social scientists,

study. On the contrary, it is on the same ontological plane. The

object and the subject of knowledge are ontologically equal. Our goal

is a visual anthropology, one where in the visual field, there is not only

that which is being observed, but also the observer. It is interesting that

in many respects, the aesthetics of the photographs themselves are the

same. Although the photographer is outside the frame, a dialogue can be

sensed of the photographer with the people being photographed. How

does the flatness of the ontology work in the context of the commentary

from social sciences?