Archive Practices and the Photographic Medium

Oleksandra Osadcha, Ph.D.

This research project will address three objectives: One is to identify the role of photography within the preservation activities and public programmes of research institutes. It also aims to explore the representational regimes in a research institute through the lens of archive photography. Lastly, it will focus on the specificity of archive photography’s various material forms, such as prints, digital files and ‘marginal’ and ‘oppressed’ forms like negatives and slides as well as their circulation in museum practices. Almost since its very invention, photography has been an essential tool for documenting, accounting and preserving. Yet, photographic documents as ‘non-pieces’ often appear at the margins of research and are valued only to the extent of their capability to provide information on the art object they feature. However, they are important as parts of the research ecosystem, allowing us to outline the inner and public hierarchy of archives and their multifaceted relations with photography’s identity. The project particularly focuses on the materiality of photographs as they are to be studied as objects themselves, taking into consideration not only the way in which negatives are treated in the preservation routine, but also the circulation of images and the influence the camera has on the interpretation and discussion of photographs. Once the tricking mask of photographic realism is removed, we can observe the dynamics and politics of photography within the context of research and archival practices.

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