How to Win at Photography: Image-Making as Play

Fri 24 Jun 2022 - Sun 25 Sep 2022

Black and White self-portrait of a Claude Cahun, sitting down wearing a white

How to Win at Photography: Image-Making as Play

Fri 24 Jun 2022 - Sun 25 Sep 2022

This event is part of our Past Programme

Funny, incredibly meta, and very good.

Time Out

Featuring over 30 international artists, How to Win at Photography questions the very meaning and function of photography today.

Exploring the relationships between photography, image-making and play, this exhibition invites audiences to focus on the playful aspects of visual culture, and creates unexpected connections between the history of photography and the practices of image-making within computer games and wider digital screen culture. 


photograph of hand holding two eyes by Aneta Grzeszykowska, Selfie #10 at The Photographers’ Gallery, London

Artists include Chinese contemporary artist, documentarian and activist Ai Weiwei; Polish multimedia artist Aneta Grzeszykowska; post-conceptual technology-based American artist Cory Arcangel; French surrealist photographer, sculptor and writer Claude Cahun; feminist artist, Cindy Sherman; German filmmaker, video artist, theorist and writer Harun Farocki; legendary American artist Ed Ruscha; Taiwanese visual artist John Yuyi and American photographer, painter and conceptual artist Sherrie Levine. 

Photography is inherently playful, but the play is not free. There are rules that the photographer must master, skills to conquer, expectations to fulfil. The very circulation of images is now a trackable, surveilled, quantifiable process like everything else on the internet. Photographs receive a ‘score’ in the form of likes and reposts. They are instantly monetised, becoming part of a larger economic competition for attention in which gamified elements and score systems are increasingly influential. At the same time, photography is a fundamental part of today's video game culture. Not only does it drive forward the photorealistic development of digital imaging; it offers ‘open worlds’, vast environments that can be explored and documented by virtual photographers. 

How to Win at Photography: Image-Making as Play is an open invitation to rethink photography through the act of playing with - and breaking – the rules of the game and to consider who is playing who.  It challenges visitors to consider such questions as:  Are we playing with the camera or is the camera playing us? What is our role within the system of photography? Are we mere pawns in a larger social and cultural network? What can a playful photographer realistically achieve? And, ultimately who can ‘win’ this game?

Featured Artists

Cory Arcangel, Aram Bartholl, Justin Berry, Alan Butler, Gloria López Cleries & Sive Hamilton Helle, Joan Pamboukes, Tabor Robak, Constant Dullaart, Yuyi John, Emma Agnes Sheffer, Coralie Vogelaar, Jon Haddock, Roc Herms, Sherrie Levine, Lorna Ruth Galloway, Ed Ruscha, Ai Weiwei, Harun Farocki, Dorothée Elisa Baumann, Dries Depoorter & Max Pinckers, Christopher Graves, John Hilliard, Steven Pippin, Ria Patricia Röder, Akihiko Taniguchi, Claude Cahun, Cibelle Cavalli Bastos, Aneta Grzeszykowska, Andy Kassier, Cindy Sherman, Petra Szemán, Danielle Udogaranya.

Online Publication

Fotomuseum Winterthur created an extensive online publication on How to Win at Photography, to access click here.

Audio Description

To access an audio description of five works in the exhibition, please visit here.

An exhibition by Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland curated by Marco De Mutiis and Matteo Bittanti, adapted in collaboration with Anna Dannemann for The Photographers’ Gallery.
In collaboration with the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image at London South Bank University.
Supported by of Volkart Foundation, Antigone Theodorou and Stefan R Bollinger; and the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK.

Download the press release here.