United Kingdom, 1949
Craigie Horsfield was trained in the painting department of St Martin's School in London. He was one of the first artists in the early 1970s to change over to photography because they saw it as a specific way of relating to the world and making equally specific interventions and analyses (though he did not begin to show his work until the late 1980s). Most of all, they understood it as a powerful system for representing the complex phenomenology of contemporary society. Its possibilities were barely beginning to be discerned, though their full breadth would be revealed over the next decade. Photography understood as a medium means that Horsfield's works need to be approached in terms of image and from the standpoint of visuality, and not as a mere record or testimony of fragments of a specific reality, a concept that has been seriously questioned in recent years. In 1972 he moved to Poland to gain firsthand experience of life in a socialist country, returning to London at the end of the decade. He took part in exhibitions that were highly significant in terms of the growing tendency to consider photographic works as tableaux, as objective and site-specific. They included ‘Une autre objectivité’ (1988) and various shows in London (Institute of Contemporary Art), New York, Minneapolis (Walker Art Center), Cologne, Pittsburgh (Carnegie International) and Kassel (Documenta X). But it was the project ‘La ciutat de la gent’ [The city of people], produced and presented in Barcelona (Fundació Antoni Tàpies, 1996), that marked the beginning of his focus on social cooperation projects: the direct immersion of artistic discourse into a weft of relations, in constant flux, which determine and reorganise the idea of community and collective experience. They also redefine individuality in relation to changing spheres and communal living, making his work an essentially rational device, above and beyond the traditional mechanisms of aesthetic experience or creative subjectivity.