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Conference: The Institutional Life of Photographs / programme / London, 6-7 December 2019

The programme for this conference at the V&A Museum has been announced. How do photographs construct meanings in museums? Why are some photographs collected as ‘significant’ and others, of historical value, not Bringing together new work on institutional ‘photographic cultures’, this conference explores the dynamics and significance of such questions across analogue and digital media, and the formative role of photographic practices in articulating the values and assumptions of museums and galleries.

PROGRAMME (provisional)

Day 1: Friday 6th December

10.00 Registration

Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture theatre


10.15. Brief welcome: Elizabeth Edwards

Public Lecture  Geoff Belknap (National Science and Media Museum). (Chair: Martin Barnes)

Redefining Photographic Collections: Institutional and Photographic Practices


11.45 Conference Welcome: Tristram Hunt (Director, V&A) and Elizabeth Edwards

12.00. Session 1. NON-COLLECTIONS – MUSEUM DISLAYS.  (Chair: Marta Weiss)

Christina Riggs (University of Durham), The Archive on Display: Photographs in the 1972 ‘Treasures of Tutankhamun’ Exhibition.

Angus Patterson (V&A) Two Dimensions Among Three: The Role of Photographs in the V&A's Refurbished Cast Courts.

13.00. Lunch break (not provided)

13.45. Session 2.   NON-COLLECTIONS – information Banks  (Chair: tbc)

Ella Ravilious (V&A/ De Montfort University). Studies from Life

Lucy Bayley (Tate Britain) Tricky Boundaries: collection, archive or gallery records?

14.45. Session 3.  COLLECTIONS MANAGEMENT AND ITS DEPOSITS   (Chair: Joan Schwartz)

Kate Hay (V&A) Revitalising research: the fall and rise of the furniture image collection.  

Petra Trnkova (Art Institute, Prague) Familial Relationships of Photographic Doubles

Erika Lederman, (V&A/De Montfort University) Isabel Agnes Cowper, Official Museum Photographer:  Her Practice, Her Work, and Afterlives

16.15 Coffee Break

16.45   Session 4.  MATERIAL INSISTENCES Chair: tbc

Pip Laureston (Tate London / Maastricht University) Finding Photography: Networks of material, skill and technology in contemporary art photography

Simon Fleury, (V&A Conservation/Birmingham City University). Condition report: mapping the museum-object encounter.

17.45 Keynote.  David Odo (Harvard Art Museums):  The Shape of the Collection:  The case of ‘Art’ Photographs of Japan in an ‘Ethnographic’ Archive.   (Chair: Elizabeth Edwards)

18.45  End of day 1

Day 2 : Saturday 7th December

10.00 Registration  and coffee

10.15 Keynote   Costanza Caraffa (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz) (Chair: Elizabeth Edwards)

 “The red dot. Archival transformations and the value of photographic objects.

11.15 Session 1.  DIGITAL ECOSYSTEMS (Chair: Simon Fleury)

Kathy Clough  (University of Newcastle)  Digital lenses on analogue collections - the Maurice Broomfield Archive at the V&A 

Adam Koszary (former Programme Manager and Digital Lead at The MERL University of Reading).  Absolute units and virality: using photographic collections in the internet age

Catherine Troiano (National Trust/ De Montfort University).  Computations and Complications: Value systems of institutional photography

12.45. Lunch break (not provided)

13.30 Session 2. THE POLITICS OF EMERGING COLLECTIONS. 1   Chair: tbc

Chris Morton (University of Oxford). Objects, assets, surrogates: non-collections in cross-cultural curation at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Sigrid Lien (University of Bergen). The Institutional Afterlives of Photographs of Sámi Peoples

14.30 Session 3 THE POLITICS OF EMERGING COLLECTIONS. 2  (Chair: James Ryan)

Margaret Hillenbrand (University of Oxford). Don’t Look Now: The Nanjing Massacre and its Photographic Afterlives 

Naluwembe Binaise (University College London) – Framing the past in Nigeria: the visibility of the photographic archive.

15.50 Coffee Break


Elizabeth Edwards (Chair); Martin Barnes, Geoff Belknap; Costanza Caraffa; David Odo; Joan Schwartz.

16.45. Closing Remarks

17.00. End

The conference is organised by the V&A Research Institute (VARI) and generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in conjunction with research strands led by VARI  Mellon Visiting Professor Elizabeth Edwards.

Final version of the programme will be uploaded nearer the time of the conference itself.

The Institutional Lives of Photographs.
V&A; December 6-7 2019.

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