British photographic history

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Seminars: History and Theory of Photography Research Centre / Spring 2017

Birkbeck's History and Theory of Photography Research Centre has announced seminars this term which are free and open to all, at 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD. 

Thursday 27 April 2017, 6:00-7:30

Room 106

Christina Riggs (University of East Anglia)

Photographing Tutankhamun: Photo-objects and the archival afterlives of colonial archaeology

In archaeology, the photographic image remains fixed as an ‘objective’ record of a site or object, or a self-regarding snapshot of famous excavators rescuing ‘ancient Egypt’. This paper uses the photographic archive of the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb (1922-33) to consider how archival processes were embedded in the practice of archaeological photography and in the ‘afterlives’ of these processes, as the archive was cared for in subsequent decades. Prominent as the tomb of Tutankhamun has been in colonial, postcolonial, and neo-colonial imaginaries, my discussion of its photo-objects and historical archiving underscores the need for more critical approaches to current archival efforts, which otherwise risk reinforcing the empirical positivism that underpinned the colonial project in the first place.


Monday 15 May 2017, 6:00-8:00pm

Room G04

Steve Edwards and Patrizia Di Bello (History and Theory of Photography Research Centre, Birkbeck)

The Jo Spence Memorial Library and Archive

After talks by Steve Edwards: ‘Further Thoughts on British Documentary in the 1970s’, and Patrizia Di Bello: ‘Jo Spence: the Archive as Feminist Family Album’, this workshop will consider the implications of the recent history of the archive of Jo Spence, the late British photographer, writer and 'cultural sniper’, and the significance of the labels applied to the material by different institutions: art, archive, library, or activist collection, arguably the term best describing the instructions Spence wrote before her death in 1992.


Wednesday 17 May, 2:00-5:00pm

Room G04

A collaboration with Birkbeck Architecture Space and Society Centre:

Sabine Wieber (Glasgow University)

‘Intimate Collaborations’ at the Photo Studio Elvira in Munich

Tag Gronberg (Birkbeck)

Architectural Relationships Past, Present and Future on the Côte d’Azur

Patrizia Di Bello, (Birkbeck) 

Response: Women’s Practice: the View from Gordon Square.

This session explores how women engaged with architecture around the turn of the twentieth century in order to produce professional identities, by focusing on two iconic buildings: the Jugendstil Photo Studio Elvira in Munich (1896 by August Endell) and E-1027 (1926-1929) built in the south of France by Eileen Gray with Jean Badovici. We discover the ways in which the personal and the professional coincided in these bold architectural designs.

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