Mi / 10:00 – 11:30

Workshop: Photography’s Cultural Institutionalisation

Kathrin Yacavone (Thyssen@KWI Fellow)

Online (Zoom) & Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen (KWI), Goethestr. 31, 45128 Essen

Since the early twentieth century photography has been increasingly prominent in German cultural (heritage) institutions, including public galleries and museums, national archives and libraries. Discussions are now taking place concerning the establishment of a Federal Institute of Photography (with its likely location in Essen), providing the medium with a dedicated place in the twenty-first-century cultural landscape. Against this background, my research project examines the cultural, aesthetic, historical, and political factors involved in the institutionalisation of photography in Germany since 1945. It aims to not only develop a framework for tracing the history of organized photographic collection and exhibition, but to demonstrate that to map the cultural institutionalisation of photography is also to reconsider the ways in which the history of the medium more generally has been written over the last 75 years.

As part of this project on ‘Forms and Formats of Photography’s Cultural Institutionalisation’ the ColloKWIum session is designed as an introduction to, and critical reflection upon, the history of photographic collection, and relevant themes, concepts, and methodologies, through reading and discussing two texts on the topic (see bibliographical details below). Some of the issues to be considered are the place of ‘Sammlungsgeschichte’ within the discourse of photographic history; different conceptions of the medium present in institutional debates; the necessarily interdisciplinary methodologies employed in this research; and various constrains and challenges facing it.

Texts* for discussion:

-Elizabeth Edwards and Christopher Morton, “Between Art and Information: Towards a Collecting History of Photographs,” in Photographs, Museums, Collections. Between Art and Information, ed. by Elizabeth Edwards and Christopher Morton (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 3–23.

-[optional] Kathrin Yacavone, “The Cultural Institutionalization of Photography in France: A Brief History,” in Photography in Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, ed. by Kathrin Yacavone, Nottingham French Studies 53:2 (2014): 122–135.


*Scans of the texts will be distributed to participants in advance of the session.