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Truth, History and Photography in Morgan Ashcom's What the Living Carry

In concert with his solo exhibition at HCP, artist Morgan Ashcom and HCP Executive Director Ashlyn Davis will discuss the origins and development of Ashcom’s fictional, narrative project, What the Living Carry, and its complex relationships to truth, history and the document. Referencing James Wood’s book, How Fiction Works, Ashcom and Davis will explore the realism of the straight photograph and how it “works” to move us in similar ways as literature. The two aim to address such theoretical questions as: What is a documentary photograph? Can photography ever fully narrate the world? What is the difference between what a picture shows and what a picture does? And, what is the meaning and importance of cultivating this visual literacy in our current social landscape in America? In the spirit of Wood, rather than exploring the nuances of these questions from the perspective of a critic or art historian, they will be explored instead from a photographer’s perspective.

This discussion will be the first in Houston Center for Photography’s new, ongoing series, Words & Pictures, a lecture and conversation series between photographers, writers, and thinkers of the medium. It is also a partner program in the 50 States Initiative, a non-partisan, nationwide campaign to use art as a means of inspiring broad civic participation.