Marija Skočir, art historian and literary comparatist, is a senior curator and head of the Jakopič and Match galleries in the Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana. She has curated or co-curated more than 20 photographic and other visual arts exhibitions (many of those retrospective and by world renowned photographers, including Josef Koudelka, Roger Ballen, Lee Miller, Sebastião Salgado) and managed more than 70 exhibition projects. In 2010 and 2013, she was deputy commissioner of Slovenian Pavilion at Venice Biennale. In parallel to her work, she is currently a researcher and a post-graduate PhD student in Art History at the University of Ljubljana, focusing on the significance of Magnum Photos agency for Central European photography.
I don’t think I learned a lot from Henri Cartier-Bresson as a photographer; but he was an extraordinary men and I learn enormously from him as a person, including taking his advice that I should never lose ’my eye’ and become a photojournalist. Still, I adopted his system to archive my negatives. – Josef Koudelka
The article is based on an insight into the workflows of the Paris agency Magnum Photos. The theoretical framework introduces a modernist model of the author’s concept, which corresponds to Magnum’s type of photographer, based on the specific historical circumstances of the agency’s founding and its modus operandi. The concept of the author as a heroic individual with a unique photographic career and biography is in a reciprocal relationship with i.e. the “myth” which, as the latest study of Magnum’s history has shown, is maintained by the agency throughout the seven decades of its existence. This myth does not exist without the “author”, while the agency does not exist without the “myth”, therefore, according to Foucault, neither the “death of the author” in a Barthesian sense, nor his replacement with the “author’s function” is possible. The author, who makes exclusive decisions regarding production, distribution, use and archiving of his photographs, affects all the processes of the agency’s work. This becomes less ambiguous in the question of the importance of Magnum’s archives, which can be claimed to have a broader relevance for social history. The archiving practice is described on the example of Josef Koudelka’s Invasion 68 series, which, with its unconventionality, shows the challenges of archiving and explains the author’s original solutions.