School of Art, Media, and Technology

Parsons Photo Professor, Michelle Bogre Travels Across China Focusing on Documentary Photography

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Students on assignment during photography workshop in Beijing, China, conducted by Professor Michelle Bogre.

Embracing culture, enhancing cooperation, and promoting design innovation were just a few of the themes at the 2018 International Innovation Design Summit hosted by Shaanxi University of Technology in Xi’an China. For Michelle Bogre, associate professor of photography at Parsons, it was an opportunity to join other renowned scholars and design experts to exchange ideas and discuss why she considers photography the “most important language of the 21st century” as presented in her lecture titled “Writing with Pixels: The Photograph Unmoored.”

Bogre, who is also a documentary photographer, writer, and intellectual property lawyer, was one of just three international speakers to be invited to the design summit. She shared the stage with Tom Wiscombe, a prominent architect and faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and Stephen Dutton, a course leader in fine art at the Bath Spa University in Bath, England.

Bogre’s trip in October and November 2018, was made possible by an invitation from Art Creativity Global, (ACG) China’s largest art based educational group. The organization assists Chinese high school and college arts students as they prepare their portfolios before going to study abroad.

Her appearance at the design summit was just a small part of Bogre’s three week journey through six Chinese cities, giving 20 lectures and workshops at ACG headquarters, Chinese universities, and private Chinese international schools. Her audience was primarily students, many of whom are planning to study abroad at universities such as Parsons, Rhode Island School of Design, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In her travels to Chengdu, Zhengzhou, Xi’an, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, Bogre gave lectures entitled “Documentary Photography Reconsidered” in which she discussed, among other topics, why the digital image is fundamentally different from the analog image and how that difference impacts documentary photography in the 21st Century.

“Given that the tenets of documentary photography have been authenticity and truth, I discuss the role that documentary will have in the 21st century when we can no longer assume a digital image is true,” she said.

The lectures were based on Bogre’s book of the same name that will be published by Bloomsbury Publishing in August, 2019.

Before starting her lectures and workshops she talked to the students about the benefits of studying at Parsons and presented information about its strongest programs and showed some of its best student work.

“My three week trip to China at the invitation of ACG was amazing,” she said. “I was impressed by the creativity of the ACG students, particularly the high school students.”

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