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Juha Wikström

FAMILIAR STRANGER: Collective Imagery At the Time of Mobile Photography

Jan 13, 2020 - Gita Cooper-van Ingen

“I want to remind you that we all have the right to make images and put them out in the world, but ask yourself which ones you actually want to take, because despite the truth that all images have been made, somehow not all stories have been told. And I’m pretty sure we’ve all got at least one or two original thoughts inside us.”


Erik Kessels, from the critical text of “Familiar Stranger” (PHmuseum, 2020).


On the occasion of Art City Bologna 2020, Spazio Labo’ and PHmuseum present the group show Familiar Stranger – Collective imagery at the time of mobile photography, following the conclusion of the first “PHmuseum Mobile Photography Prize” – a photo contest through which 11,000 photographs, shot using mobile devices, from around the world have been collected. The exhibition proposes to reflect on the typical behavioural models of the virtual environment, triggering a dialogue between the authors exhibited and those elements and themes that distinguish contemporary online fiction.


As defined by the American psychologist Stanley Milgram in 1972, “familiar stranger” is a concept that refers to those individuals who do not know each other but share some common attributes such as interests, employment, social position and so on. For instance, Milgram mentioned those people who take the same train every day and are able to recognize faces of individuals already seen but with whom they have never interacted and whom they probably know nothing about. Moving this concept into a virtual environment, it is interesting and stimulating to explore the existence of potential familiar strangers in the vastness of the online world. Social networks actually represent a complex set of human relationships in which interactions are given through posts, tags, shares and likes.


As a special event within the exhibition, on Saturday January 25th we’ll host the presentation of the photobook Familiar Stranger, the first photobook published by PHmuseum, and a round-table about post-photography and mobile photography with Erik Kessels, an artist particularly committed to these issues, and Chiara Bardelli Nonino, photo editor of Vogue Italia, in conversation with Laura De Marco (director and curator of Spazio Labo’), Giuseppe Oliverio (director of PHmuseum) and Rocco Venezia (curator of PHmuseum).




15th JANUARY – 5th MARCH 2020


Within ART CITY Segnala 2020 during Arte Fiera


Spazio Labo’ | Photography

Strada Maggiore 29, Bologna



Wednesday 15th January, 7 PM

free entry


Collateral events:

Saturday 25th January 6 PM book launch “Familiar Stranger” + panel discussion with Erik Kessels, Chiara Bardelli Nonino (Vogue Italia), Rocco Venezia (PHmuseum), Giuseppe Oliverio (PHmuseum), Laura De Marco (Spazio Labo’).

Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th January – “Who are you and your work?” by Erik Kessels. More info here: http://bit.ly/2YTIqSs



Opening hours during ART CITY Bologna:

Friday January 24th, 3PM-8PM

Saturday January 25th, 11AM-12AM

Sunday January 26th, 12PM-6PM



Opening hours:

from Monday to Friday, 3PM-6.30PM





Spazio Labo’ is a cultural organization based in Bologna and founded in 2010, mainly focussed on contemporary photography. Spazio Labo’ is a school for photographers as well as hosts shows and events with both emerging and established artists, from Italy and abroad.







+39 328 3383634