Introduction to José Oiticica Filho’s “Setting the Record Straighter”

This text introduces article “Setting the Record Straighter” (1951) by Brazilian photographer and artist José Oiticica Filho (1906–1964). The core of Oiticica Filho’s article is a discussion of the significance of photo-club exhibitions, based on the example of an ongoing rivalry between the members of São Paulo-based photo club Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante (FCCB) and Rio de Janeiro-based club Sociedade Fluminense de Fotografia. Oiticica Filho, as a member of the São Paulo-based club who resided in Rio, emerged as a mediator between the two groups—an impartial scientist who sought a solution in data, not in the clashes between egos. The article, partially translated here for the first time, illuminates the inner workings of photo-club culture, the motivation for photographers to participate, and their major concerns about the club exhibitions. Oiticica Filho’s method, based on statistics and data analysis, anticipate the sociological approach to photography developed by Pierre Bourdieu in Photography: A Middle-Brow Art (1965). Understanding Oiticica Filho’s statistical work is key to establishing a broader perspective on postwar photo-club culture as an international phenomenon that contributed to the recognition of photography as an autonomous art form during the 1950s.

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