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Pariticipants and Abstracts

Erkan Ali

Ph.D. candidate, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, UK
The ‘(In)decisive Moment’: Luc Delahaye’s Winterreise

Forming part of my PhD thesis on the relationship between text and image in sociological contexts, currently being undertaken at Lancaster University, this paper will examine the work of the contemporary French photojournalist-turned-artist, Luc Delahaye. Specifically, it will focus on his (1999) book, Winterreise (winter journey), which, taking its inspiration from the twenty-four song cycle of the same name by Franz Schubert, is described as a ‘melancholy road story’ exposing the depravity of contemporary Russian society (Delahaye, 1999). Delahaye’s style typically involves the cool detachment of the photographer from the scene. In fact, it has been said that this unique method creates the effect of the photographer’s absence from the scene, one which is rooted in Delahaye’s rejection of sensationalist mainstream media coverage of events, such as ‘wars’, which, he argues, only make a ‘spectacle’ of reality. Delahaye’s focus is on the mundane, but the mundane as it emerges out of extraordinary circumstances and locations, such as warzones or, indeed, in this case, contemporary Russia. Winterreise can be seen as an arduous journey as much through time as through space. But Delahaye’s book is more than just a photographic narrative telling the story of his road trip; as a composite picture, it also represents the physiognomy of contemporary Russia. With connotations and issues relating to the emotional impact of images of destitution, as well as to Delahaye’s own physical, intellectual and professional progression, my reading of Winterreise represents a moving narrative in more ways than one.


Michelle Bauldic
M.A. candidate, Department of Art, Queen’s University
(Re)creating Riel: the Image of Louis Riel’s Deployment in Selected Canadian Visual Culture

Credited as being the Father of Manitoba, Métis politician Louis Riel (1844-1885) is a controversial figure in Canadian history due to his role in leading the Red River Resistance (1869-1870) and his participation in North-West Resistance (1885) when he was subsequently hanged for high treason by the federal government. After his execution, Riel was, for the most part, nonexistent as only a footnote in English Canada’s historical narrative, yet he immediately became a martyred hero in French Canadian and Aboriginal people’s discourses. Despite his contested place within Canadian national histories, Riel’s image does not appear again after his death until 1970, when it emerges in Canadian nationalist visual culture. In my paper, I analyze the ways in which Riel’s image has been used in recent decades by different segments of the Canadian population to deconstruct the “story of Canada”. I aim to investigate the ways in which artists have used historical photographs of Riel to represent identity and nation, as well as engage with history, in the post-1970 period.
With a politicized reconstitution of history in mind, I discuss how history has been revised, negotiated and re-contextualized in the symbolic use of Riel’s image in works by artists such as John Boyle, Gerald McMaster and Jane Ash Poitras. How does Riel’s image from archival photographs participate and subvert the ideas of “Canada”? By examining the use of historical portraiture in contemporary art practises, who uses the image and to what end?  Has the image been emptied of meaning? I will argue that the different deployments of the image of Riel are used to engage and challenge the privileged representations and myths of Canadian identity, history and nation.


Marie-Eve Bouillon
Doctorante, École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris
La diffusion de modèles touristiques par une agence de photographie au XIXème siècle : l’Agence Neurdein et les représentations du Mont Saint-Michel entre 1879 et 1917.

Étape essentielle du voyage en France et monument-symbole pour les pèlerins et les voyageurs dès le moyen-âge, le Mont Saint-Michel offre un exemple de site qui fut, avec la mode du tourisme à la fin du XIXème siècle, l'objet d'une iconographie photographique abondante dans la tradition du commerce du souvenir.
Cette iconographie, dont on continue à trouver les traces aujourd'hui à travers les nombreuses cartes postales du début du siècle encore en circulation, fut en grande partie produite et diffusée par des structures commerciales spécialisées, des agences de photographie, qui imposent alors leurs vues, réels produits d'une industrie du visuel.
L'opportunité commerciale que présente le monument sera exploitée en premier lieu par l'agence Neurdein (dont le sigle est ND phot), qui développe à cette époque son activité sur tout le territoire autour de la photographie de vue, paysage et monument à destination des touristes. Dès le milieu du XIXème siècle, d’abord entreprise individuelle de photographies, elle devient une grande maison d'édition et d'impression influente dans le commerce de la photographie, suivant le mouvement d’autres entreprises comme Braun, Léon et Levy, Bulloz…
Dans cette présentation nous analyserons ainsi comment l’entreprise a su professionnaliser l’offre iconographique liée au monument et fait évoluer ses fonds par la réalisation de campagnes régulières de prises de vue. Puis nous observerons le mécanisme d’enrichissement et d’actualisation des vues de cette agence, suivant une logique de rentabilité de son fonds commercial. Enfin, nous verrons comment leurs photographies participent de la fabrication « d’icônes » touristiques, liées au lieu et à la vision pittoresque qu’ils souhaitent lui attribuer.
Symptomatique de ce nouveau commerce de l’image photographique de grande envergure, le rôle de l’agence des frères Neurdein, qui se développe parallèlement au succès du tourisme, fut prépondérant dans la diffusion de modèles touristiques depuis Paris.


Elizabeth Cavaliere
Ph.D. student, Department of Art History, Concordia University  
The Expedition of Benjamin Baltzly: Rethinking the Topographical as a Canadian Aesthetic of Expansion

The timeline of the Canadian photographic landscape tacitly accepts the idée reçue that a visual culture of Canadian identity was founded by the Group of Seven (1919-1931). Instead, this paper asserts that artistic traditions in Canadian landscape photography began much earlier, in topographical survey projects conventionally understood in terms of westward colonial expansion and nineteenth-century notions of Progress. These early photographs are formally and technically remarkable, as well as containers of cultural expression that emergent photographic scholars quickly understand to be out of bounds and held hostage by geographic and geological inquiry. Such scientific studies must be credited with enormous gains, in terms of intentionality and content, but they do so at the expense of the historical photographs’ aesthetic qualities and their contributions to a Canadian landscape tradition.
This paper considers the photographs of Notman Studio photographer Benjamin Baltzly during his survey expedition to British Columbia in 1871, with the aim of demonstrating that Baltzly’s early topographical photographs contribute to a self-reflexive and reflective sense of Canadian-ness in landscape photography. This paper will also consider a reading of Baltzly’s expedition journal as a way to understand both his travels and adventures across the emerging Canadian nation, and as an insight into his creative thought process. Looking past the overworked distinction between photographic documents and works of art, my methodology insists on an aesthetic reading of Baltzly’s topographical photographs as expressive markers of the formation of a Canadian identity.  The re-reading of his works through their inherited notions of Scottish and English landscape tradition will help to situate his photographs within a framework of artistic engagement that is directly tied to ideas of nationhood bound up in the landscape.


Aurélie Champ
Doctorante en Géographie, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
De l’Indochine à la France : les différents usages de la photographie d’exploration

La Bibliothèque nationale de France conserve pour le compte de la Société de géographie de Paris un très riche fonds de photographies prises à travers le monde. Au sein de cet ensemble, existe une collection de positifs de projection réalisés entre 1880 et 1920 en Indochine par des explorateurs français. Ces photographies sont présentées à l’époque lors de conférences organisées par la Société de géographie pour un public d’érudits. Certaines de ces images furent alors publiées. On verra d’ailleurs à cet égard de quelle manière ces photographies ont pu dans le même temps servir un discours scientifique et illustrer un récit de voyage destiné à un public plus large.
Ce fonds, tombé dans l’oubli pendant près de 70 ans, fait l’objet d’un intérêt accru depuis les années 1990, d’où la nécessité de revenir sur le contexte d’origine des photographies. Il est impératif, pour effectuer une analyse plus complète, de restituer l’objectif et l’itinéraire de chaque voyage. Au moment de leur réalisation, l’un des principaux buts de ces explorations est d’obtenir une meilleure connaissance des territoires placés sous autorité française, de leur population et de leurs coutumes. On verra ainsi que la diversité disciplinaire des explorateurs (médecins, militaires, scientifiques, missionnaires, architectes…) et de leur institution mandataire (Ministère de l’Instruction publique et des Beaux-Arts, Armée, missions catholiques, Institut Pasteur, organisations chargées de l’aménagement du territoire…) détermine le regard posé sur ce territoire. On constate d’ailleurs aujourd’hui que l’établissement où sont conservés ces documents iconographiques détermine certainement la lecture et l’interprétation qui en est proposé.
Si aujourd’hui encore ces vues attirent par leur exotisme, on les apprécie également comme témoin d’un passé révolu. Elles soulignent, par exemple, les modifications topographiques et urbanistiques constatées dans cette région d’Asie du sud-est.


Karen Crawley
Ph.D. candidate, Faculty of Law, McGill University
Framing Henson

In 2008, a nude photograph of a thirteen-year old girl taken by Australia’s most famous photographer, Bill Henson, was at the centre of one of the most heated conflicts over the arts in Australian history.  After a newspaper editorial denounced the photograph, which had been distributed on an invitation to the Oxley9Gallery’s Henson exhibit, right-wing radio hosts and politicians succeeded in having the show’s opening night cancelled within a matter of hours.  By the next morning, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had denounced the photograph as ‘revolting’ and a zealous police investigation begun in earnest, only to be quietly dropped several weeks later   when the Director of Public Prosecutions advised the police that mere nudity in a photograph does not make it obscene or pornographic.  
In this paper, I inquire into how Henson’s photograph of N was initially framed as pornographic by tracing its circulation and reproduction within several contexts and media.  The photograph appeared on the original posted invitation, in the gallery space, on the art gallery’s website, on television and on online newspapers (with black bars), and was rephotographed as police evidence.  These shifting frames reveal pornography not as a quality inherent to a photograph, but as a relation of viewing.  I then connect the contested status of Henson’s photograph to developments in child pornography law, which has abandoned the necessity of an indexical relationship to violence, and adopts a particular way of seeing – the paedophilic ‘gaze’ – to constitute and further expand the ambit of photographs that can be considered pornographic.  I argue that both child pornography law and the controversy surrounding Henson's photograph are manifestations of an anxiety over the possibility of framing itself - the possibility of distinguishing between art and porn, childhood and adulthood, sexuality and ‘deviance’ - and that this has profound implications for our efforts at policing photographs.


Karl Fousek
M.A. candidate, Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, University of British Columbia
Posed in Ruin: Felice Beato’s Lucknow Photographs

In March 1858, commercial photographer Felice Beato traveled to Lucknow to photograph what remained of the relief campaigns ending the Sepoy rebellion against the British.
Unable - due to technical limitations - to photograph warfare in action, Beato produced theatrical images, most notoriously disinterring several corpses in order to recreate a scene of British reprisal. Indians are posed and arranged throughout Beato’s images, marking specific sites for a public in Britain removed from events.
This paper argues that, if attention is given to the posed figures, Beato’s photographs can not be understood as they typically are: as spaces for the construction of British memory. These photographs refute memory. They attest to the failure of the camera to have “been there” at the necessary moment. There is, therefore, a disjunction between this posed present and the events of which the figures mark, the captions recount, the buildings bare the trace and the photographs stand as record. It is the status of photography as a historical record that these images dramatise and call into question.
Such an account is crucial to understanding of early photography in the colonial context, as photography was being called upon to do what it could not: provide the record of crimes as they occurred in order to bolster a model of colonial governance that relied on surveillance as a means of control. The failure of Beato’s photographs, however, cannot be seen a failure of colonial surveillance. The docility of the posed figures allows for the projection of an imagined colonial future. British citizens far from Lucknow - and anxiously reading about the “Mutiny” - can see amongst its ruins the ideal colonial subjects to occupy the reconstructed city: mute, loyal bodies given over to the orders of the photographer and the vision of the camera.


Abram Fox
Ph.D. student, Department of Art History & Archaeology, University of Maryland, College Park
“These are not gymnasts. These are an army!”: Photographic Postcards, Czech Gymnasts, and the Promotion of Slavic Nationalism in 1910s Bohemia

Throughout history monuments have played a crucial role in the creation and demonstration of national identity, and the preservation of collective history. When political or other circumstances prevent the creation of works of stone and metal, the bodies of the people themselves can also be organized to function as monuments.  In Bohemia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Czech nationalists looked to the powerful bodies of the Sokol (“Falcon”) gymnastics organization to support their political aims of establishing an independent Slavic nation from the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Sokol festivals, or Slets, physically transformed the streets of Prague into a national monument to Czech unity and power.  While visually impressive, these body-monuments were transient, and photographs and advertisements were developed to serve as lasting tributes to Slets after the closing ceremonies. Interest in Slets and the actions of Sokol clubs spread far beyond the streets of Prague, however, and postcards proved to be an extremely popular, inexpensive, and effective way of spreading Sokol imagery internationally. As demands for an independent Slavic nation grew increasingly strong in the years immediately prior to World War I, photographic postcards served as more than just a souvenir function, becoming persuasive statements of the Czech ability to organize and train what amounted to a paramilitary force.  In my paper I examine photographic postcards from the 1912 Sokol Slet as evidence of the viability of Bohemian self-governance and of the martial ability to protect that sovereignty, intended to spread both within and beyond the Slavic lands of Central Europe.


Lionel Gauthier
Doctorant, Département de géographie, Université de Genève
Alfred Bertrand ou quelques déclinaisons de la photographie de voyage

Qu’y a-t-il en commun entre une photographie prise par un touriste et le cliché d’un explorateur ? Peut-on ranger dans la même catégorie des souvenirs classés dans des albums et des images reproduites par milliers dans des magazines ? La photographie de voyage constitue-t-elle une catégorie homogène ?
Pour tenter de répondre à ces questions, cette communication propose d’étudier le regard et le parcours d’un homme, Alfred Bertrand, né à Genève en 1856 et mort en 1924 dans la même ville.
Fasciné par l’ailleurs, Alfred Bertrand était à la fois un grand voyageur et un collectionneur de photographies et d’objets ethnographiques. Son expérience du voyage peut se décliner en trois phases : touriste dans sa jeunesse, puis explorateur et enfin missionnaire. A chacune de ces phases correspond un rapport spécifique à la photographie. Au cours de sa phase « touriste », Alfred Bertrand achetait des photographies des lieux qu’il visitait dans des ateliers professionnels. Il les classait ensuite dans des albums qu’il réservait à son usage privé. Plus tard, lors de ses voyages d’exploration en Afrique australe, il se fit photographe. Il utilisa alors ses clichés pour illustrer ses livres et ses conférences contant ses exploits. Enfin, durant sa période missionnaire, il ne recueillit pas de nouvelles images, mais réinterpréta ses photographies d’exploration pour en faire des preuves des bienfaits du christianisme, dans ses ouvrages et conférences consacrés à la Mission du Zambèze.
À la fois consommateur et producteur d’images, Alfred Bertrand a donc expérimenté plusieurs déclinaisons de la photographie de voyages. L’analyse de son itinéraire permettra de les détailler, mais aussi de montrer qu’elles reposent sur des bases communes. Pour ce faire, cette communication traitera des notions d’authenticité, de pittoresque, de couleur locale, mais aussi du besoin de prouver que « j’y étais ».


Sara Hagerty
M.A. student, Department of Art and Art History, University of New Mexico
There Will Be No Blood:  The Colonial Photographic Representation of Rebel Leaders in 19th Century Bali

As Dutch colonialism advanced on the island of Bali, the Balinese maintained a strong resistance by supporting their traditional and regional aristocracies. Ida Madeh Rahi, leader of one of the Balinese regions, waged one of the earliest and most threatening open revolts against the Dutch in 1868. It was only after Dutch reinforcements arrived that Madeh Rahi and his supporters lost the upper hand, leading to his subsequent arrest and eventual exile. While in military confinement the Dutch requested photographer Isidore Van Kinsbergen to take portraits of the Madeh Rahi and his supporters as evidence of their capture and defeat. This paper will address these portraits taken by Van Kinsbergen as anomalous in comparison to other typical representations of violent suppression and ethnographic types.   
While trapping his subjects within the colonial framing of his lens, Van Kinsbergen constructs a “victory” over the ‘Other’ yet shows no evidence of the subjects’ actual fight, weapons, or military defeat. This contrast to standard representations of brutality and victimization set a unique undertone for the colonial framing of these ‘false’ portraits. Through my reinterpretation of the albumen prints of Ida Madeh Rahi and his supporters one uncovers an uncharacteristic portrayal of the colonial subject differing from the standard ethnographic stereotype. While reinforcing the political and administrative procedures of the Dutch authority, Van Kinsbergen also fueled the imaginations of the Western viewer. Through the formal elements of the photographs one can decipher the manipulation of the Balinese ‘Other’, the colonial power and success of the Dutch over the Balinese, and the photographer’s civilizing intervention and construction of the portraits. However, it is the dominant depiction of the Balinese ‘Other’ as a dignified, respectable exotic subject that conflicts with the standard submission and control of the ‘Other’ within ethnographic photography.


Corina Ilea
Ph.D. student, Department of Art History, Concordia University
Photographs from the “Golden Age”: Stefan Constantinescu’s personal history of communism, twenty years after its fall

Romanian photographic practice has passed through various levels and degrees of visibility throughout its development (many reformulations of a recuperating process, as well as a certain invisibility triggered by the non-functionality of the public social space, by censorship, distortion and imposed representations), both within the perimeter of the internal borders of Romania and within an international context.
Different from the previous generation of photographers working under the social conditions of the communist regime, and therefore compelled to obey strict representational and ideological rules or otherwise to address topics external to the surrounding social realities, the contemporary generation of Romanian photographers carries the memory of invisibility – triggered by politically imposed subjects - into visibility, the memory of an impossibility of representation into the representational realm.
Within a re-interpretational framework in terms of meaning and context, my paper will focus on a case study: Stefan Constantinescu’s The Golden Age for Children (2008). He recuperates vernacular as well as official propaganda photographs representing the social conditions of communism and relocates them within the space of a pop-up book for children - children living under completely different social conditions and who, moreover can not possibly preserve the memory of those times. Suffice it to say that following a series of interviews conducted in 2006 came the surprise that large numbers of teenagers would not recognize the state portrait of Ceausescu, previously present in every textbook, in every television show and in each and every public institution. An image that was pervasive 20 years ago has proved its inconsistency. At the same time, apart from presenting images that have permeated the collective memory of those times, he parallels them with his own personal history, with photographs belonging to his family album.
Stefan Constantinescu reconfigures the relationship with a traumatic past, photographically re-inventing a social reality, in its material but also in its imaginary form and moreover, he radically changes the context of display and meaning of the photographs he uses in The Golden Age for Children.


Rebecca Keegan
Ph.D. candidate, Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Duke University
They Fight a Fire that Won’t Go Out:  Charles Moore’s photographs of the Birmingham Civil Rights Protests, May 1963

This paper examines a group of photographs taken by Life photographer Charles Moore documenting the incendiary Civil Rights protests in Birmingham, Alabama during the first days of May 1963.  Moore arrived in Birmingham just as the years of percolating racial tension reached a boiling point. The series of black and white photographs Moore took, which later appeared in an 11-page photo essay in Life, captured the use of police dogs and fire hoses on the thousands of black protestors drawing national attention to the Civil Rights Movement. This paper considers the significance of Moore’s photographs on several levels:  first, the overarching importance of photography to the Civil Rights Movement in its capacity to allow millions to “travel” down South and bear witness the racial violence from the safety and comfort of their living rooms; second, the Moore’s choice in method; and third, the implications of the magazine context in which the photographs were published. These photographs document a key moment in history, but I ask are the photographs simply evidence or are Moore’s images capable of travelling outside of the documentary?
After a summary of the day’s events, I conduct a close reading of several of Moore’s photographs. I argue that Moore utilizes the physical qualities of water in his images to draw attention to the events and implicate his viewer as well as to demonstrate how water serves as an agent of trauma on the black body. Moreover I suggest that water functions as an aesthetic element that imparts his images with a beauty that allows them to transcend the specific historical narrative of which they are part.


Carla Manfredi
Ph.D. student, Department of English, Queen’s University
Performing Tusitala: Photographing R.L Stevenson

The Scottish author, essayist, travel writer and amateur photographer Robert Louis Stevenson spent the last six years of his life (1888-1894) traveling throughout the South Pacific. During the course of his travels he recorded his experiences and observations in what was to be published posthumously as In the South Seas (1896). In addition to his writing, R.L. Stevenson photographed the islands and their islanders. These photographs were intended to illustrate parts of In the South Seas, a work that combines personal anecdote, anthropology, and autobiography.
I will present and interpret a selection of Stevenson’s, and his step-son Lloyd Osbourne’s, South Pacific photographs in relation to the writer’s literary documentary realism. My particular critical approach to Stevenson remains largely understudied: I will suggest that Stevenson’s photographs possess more than a merely illustrative and documentary function. In fact, the photographic medium routinely escaped Stevenson’s intentions, reflecting on the inferiority of his photographic negatives, he described them as “a province of chaos and old night in which you might dimly perceive fleecy spots of twilight, representing nothing.” This self-criticism reveals Stevenson’s frustration with a medium that was unable to represent the world adequately, or the way he perceived it. A distinct tension emerges from Stevenson’s antithetical inclination to both capture reality with a camera, and to view his photographic subjects as abstractions. Drawing upon Daniel Novak’s Realism, Photography, and Nineteenth-century Fiction (2008), in which the author argues that Victorian photography produced physical impossibilities and abstractions and thus had an effect opposite to that of realism, I will interpret Stevenson’s fascination with the photographic image as a visual metaphor for the ambiguity with which he conceptualized reality in his literary works.


Karla McManus
Ph.D student, Department of Art History, Concordia University
The Site of Display: The Travelling Exhibition Ashes and Snow and “The Nomadic Museum”

“The Nomadic Museum,” designed for the photographic installation Ashes and Snow by Canadian photographer Gregory Colbert, is not tied to a specific site or place. This dismantle-able installation of photographic and film-based works, entitled Ashes and Snow travels to different cities around the world in shipping containers which are then transformed on-site into a structure of display. In the tradition of a travelling circus tent or pre-fabricated exhibition structures such as the Crystal Palace of 1851, “The Nomadic Museum” occupies a location in the city, presents a spectacle for its viewers and then is gone, on to the next location and the next audience.
In a sense, the physical structure of “The Nomadic Museum”, deterritorialized and de-localized, parallels the work on display in its interior. In his photographs, taken in countries around the world, Colbert represents the ‘other’ as two-fold, depicting both the anthropomorphized animal and the non-westerner as exotic and primitive. Ashes and Snow seeks to promote a universalized vision of humans and animals, man and nature, which is divorced from locality and time, a spectacle of monumental scale rooted in the history of exploitative spaces meant for the exhibition of exoticism. The use of the photographic medium distances Ashes and Snow from this tradition through its status as “art” while, at the same time, relying on the traditional image of the primitive in visual culture.
In this presentation, I will argue that the structure of “The Nomadic Museum” rather than functioning as a 'museum', in fact, continues the tradition of the 'exotic shows' that became popular in the 19th century. The structure of the “The Nomadic Museum,” as a 21st century architectural spectacle in its own right, acts as a formal exhibition space that legitimizes the viewing of the 'other' in the form of the photograph.


Sarah Montross
Ph.D. student, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
‘The Foreigner was Afraid’: Juan Downey's Split Vision in Video Trans America (1973-1979)

This paper will analyze a series of installations in New York City by Chilean-born artist Juan Downey (1940-1993) titled Video Trans America (1973-1979). After living abroad for nearly a decade in Europe and the United States, working at the forefront of experimental cybernetic and performance art, Downey embarked on two lengthy excursions through Central and South America which resulted in his seminal project Video Trans America. Inspired by road trip narratives of Jack Kerouac, Robert Frank and Che Guevara, Downey crafted photo-collages and video installations by splicing together documentation of his inter-continental travels. Downey focused particularly on the archaeological remains of pre-Colombian civilizations in Mexico, Peru and Bolivia and his eight-month habitation with the Yanomami people of Amazonian Brazil and Venezuela, where he discovered striking parallels between his camera’s ravenous, colonizing “gaze” and the alleged cannibalistic practices of this native population.
While consciously blending (and thus complicating) the traditions of ethnographic documentation and personal travelogue with the emerging technology of portable video equipment, Downey meditated on systems of visual perception and inter-personal subjectivity, while also recognizing his own ambivalent yet nostalgic return to his “homeland”. Downey’s return to South America coincided with the military coup in Chile led by Augusto Pinochet in 1973. Therefore this paper will consider how the coup d’état not only ruptured Chilean society but split Downey’s artistic vision, as his work became increasingly directed at the injustices of the regime. This paper will also situate Downey’s work among an emerging genre of travel-based, personal narrative photography and film projects of the 1970s which includes the travelogues of Robert Smithson, Robert Morris and films by David Lamelas. Among this body of artwork Juan Downey’s Video Trans America stands apart in its lengthy exploration of the transmission and translation of material and visual culture between remote sites of South America and North American art centers of the 1970s.


Sharon Murray
Ph.D. student, Department of Art History, Concordia University
Double Vision: The Ambivalence of Mission Photography

This paper will consider a single, black and white photograph from my mother’s childhood album. It pictures her at fifteen, dressed in a sari, a loose white blouse, and flip-flops. She stands on a lawn backed by a row of trees. The photograph dates from 1965 and was taken in Andhra Pradesh, India, the region of my mother’s birth. My doctoral research analyses the private, photographic collections of ten Canadian Baptist missionaries, including my grandparents, who served in India during the period of 1945-1970. Since these missionaries and their families have been removed from India for more than forty years, their India photographs and slides are now sites of memory and nostalgia, surrogates for a “home” in India they can no longer access. In this paper I will argue that the distance my mother’s photograph has travelled, across time and cultures, between private and public spaces (this very presentation brings this photograph into public view), gives it new and ambivalent meanings. To someone unfamiliar with my mother’s life story, this photograph might appear to be part of the legacy of photography’s service to colonialism: photographs of colonial cross-dressing were one of many ways in which colonizers used photography to assert dominance over colonized peoples. But a private reading of this photograph, one rooted in my mother’s childhood memories, reveals a different sight: she remembers feeling awkward having her photo taken when dressed this way, since she worried how her ill-fitting blouse and imperfectly draped sari would appear through Indian eyes. I will argue that tracing these shifting modes of seeing – public and private, colonial and postcolonial, belonging and dislocation – reveals the inherent ambivalence of this mission photograph, its meanings so discordant that they create a double vision of a single image thereby troubling the very binaries that define it.


Jennifer Orpana
M.A. candidate, Department of Visual Arts, University of Western Ontario
Honouring Activism: The Art of Protest in the Photography of Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé

The paper that I propose to present is entitled, “Honouring Activism: The Art of Protest in the Photography of Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé.” I examine the circulation of photographs by Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé in the United States in the 1990s. Keïta and Sidibé’s portrait and reportage photography produced in Bamako (1940-1970) was originally exchanged between friends and family members. The photographers collaborated with the subjects and used performance, costumes, and borrowed props to create images which often acted against the history of colonialism or the political power of the time. However, in the 1990s, these images circulated in the United States under the auspices of offering Western audiences “authentic” images of African culture. I explore the problematic contextualization which surrounded these photographs in the United States, which privileged a discourse of “authenticity” over that of the activism which was performed in the photographs.
Currently there is little dedicated research which examines the influence that the early circulation of Keïta and Sidibé’s photographs has had in forming the history of Malian, and African, visual culture in North America. This historiography has greatly influenced the way in which the concepts of “authenticity,” “authorship,” and “identity” are approached in discourse about African photography and specifically Malian visual culture today. In exploring this topic, my research questions include: what led to the promotion of Keïta and Sidibé as representatives of all African photography? What role did the art market, monographic exhibitions, the media, and museums play in legitimizing the work of Keïta and Sidibé as “authentic” visual culture of Mali? How was this legitimization productive or problematic? Why was it important to exhibit “authentic” images of African culture in the United States at this time and how did the genres of portrait and reportage photography help to serve cultural agendas? These questions connect to the themes raised by the “Travelling Photographies” conference, specifically, “the museum or exhibition as a site of shifting photographic meaning, and the reinterpretation (even misinterpretation) of photographs across cultural borders.”


Rhonda Saad
Ph.D. student, Department of Art History, Northwestern University
Accounting for the Virgin in Khalil Raad’s Studio: Photographic Representations of the Holy Land at the Turn-of-the-19th-Century

This paper explores how photographic strategies employed by westerners traveling to the Holy land (specifically Palestine; or Greater Syria as it was commonly known) on behalf of the “Peaceful Crusade”, intersected with indigenous practices. The period considered begins in the mid-19th century and extends to the moment of the British Mandate. The historiography of the genre of Holy Land imagery is extensive; and yet, the literature overwhelmingly favors Euro-American representations of the region (fig. 1) above those produced by local Arab photographers. If their photographs are mentioned at all, they are typically framed according to one of two narratives: indigenous works are derivative of western representational strategies or, that they represented a conspicuous rejection of these western artistic practices. In either case, however, any action exerted by a local artist has been traditionally perceived as a reaction to western artistic norms, and thus relegated to a lower creative standard.
This paper intervenes in the historiography by comparing the earliest photographic representations of this region by western – primarily British, French, and American – photographers, to the photographs of Khalil Raad (1856-1957), the first professional Arab photographer, who lived in Jerusalem at this time and owned/operated a professional studio in the heart of the Old City (fig. 2). By inserting Raad’s studio into the genealogy of Holy Land imagery and comparing his corpus of photographs to those of contemporary Euro-American practitioners, I complicate the dual histories heretofore written about the development of photography in Palestine. In addition to his scenes of “everyday life”, I introduce Raad’s extraordinary Mother and Child (fig. 3) to show how such an image at once evokes biblical narratives and refuses to conflate the biblical past and Palestinian present vis-à-vis the emotive contemporaneity that radiates from the female figure and her enigmatic smile.


Sara Spike
Ph.D. student, Department of History, Carleton University
“The ‘Travelling Artist’ has arrived on wheels": Itinerant Photographer Frank Adams in Early Twentieth-Century Rural Nova Scotia

And now the ‘Travelling Artist’ has arrived on wheels, and all will have a picture taken.
—community notes of Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Truro Daily News, August 8, 1912

In the first two decades of the twentieth century Frank Adams worked as an itinerant photographer, travelling the roads of rural Nova Scotia by bicycle or in a specially designed horse-drawn studio wagon. He worked primarily as a school photographer, but offered his talents to a range of other clients as well. His photographs are now found in local historical society collections throughout the province, but despite their wide circulation, Adams himself has been almost entirely forgotten. The reciprocal relationship that he had with the communities he visited has not been archived along with the images he made. My Masters thesis, completed in 2009, was, in part, something of a recovery project, piecing together fragments of Adams’s life and work, and then situating him in the particular cultural context of rural Nova Scotia just after the turn of the century.
My proposed paper for Travelling Photographies is drawn from my thesis research. It considers the relationship between Frank Adams, his photographs, and the rural communities he visited. His work as an itinerant commercial photographer, who made portraits for sale to the people he photographed, distinguished him from a range of travelling social documentary photographers working at the same time who sought to photograph a rural “way of life.” Adams’s particular commercial practice meant that he was embedded in reciprocal relationships—financial and social—with the communities he visited that denote more than just passing through. Itinerant photographers have generally been characterized alternately as unsophisticated folk artists unaware of their own latent talents, or as businessmen motivated only by commercial interests, without any aesthetic aspirations. The result is a wide gulf between approaches that over-romanticize and patronize itinerants, and those that strip away all of their individuality. Yet there is evidence to suggest that Frank Adams understood himself explicitly as a photographic artist who was also a commercial photographer. Though his recovered body of work is largely made up of school photographs, recent reconsiderations of the value of so-called vernacular photographies present an opportunity to position Adams in dialogue with the more traditionally celebrated documentary photographers. Such a study offers a rare opportunity to consider the typically neglected photographic culture of rural communities.


Katharina Stornig
Doctoral researcher, Department of History and Civilization, European University Institute, Florence
Multilayered Meanings: Photographic Practices of a Catholic Congregation of Missionary Nuns

My paper proposal deals with a set of photographs filed in the headquarters of a German Catholic congregation of missionary nuns (the ›Servants of the Holy Spirits‹). More concretely, I propose exploring the relationship between context and meaning of a sample of missionary photographs taken in the nuns’ field of mission in colonial Togo and New Guinea between 1897 and 1970. Departing from the body of images filed in the congregation’s headquarters in form of two albums and a number of loosely organized photographs, I pose a series of questions that link the material travel of the photographs to potentially shifting interpretations of their meaning. Thereby, I approach the photographs as suggested by Elizabeth Edwards as “active intermediaries” that “articulate not only meanings (…) but social networks”. (Edwards, 2004)
From the outset, missionary photographs were posted from Togo and New Guinea respectively to the congregation’s European headquarters, where selected images were reproduced and circulated within and beyond the institutional framework. On the one hand, they served to visualize the missionary encounter to fellow nuns and religious superiors in Europe. On the other hand, however, selected photographs were reproduced and distributed in form of post cards to benefactors, used in missionary publications or forwarded to the nuns’ relatives.
However, for decades male western missionaries practically enjoyed a monopoly on the production and distribution of photographs representing the feminine sphere of missionary work in both areas. Hence, although western nuns and indigenous people were involved in the production of the photos, at first they neither functioned as photographers nor had means available to distribute photos independently from the male missionaries on location. Consequently, I moreover take into consideration the gradual democratization of the production and circulation of missionary photography in terms of gender in particular and (colonial) power relations more generally.


Riva Symko
Ph.D. candidate, Department of Art, Queen’s University
All Apologies: Multivalency in The Countess of Aberdeen’s Through Canada with a Kodak (1893)

Concurrent to contemporary post-colonial, feminist, and Marxist academic discourses on nineteenth-century travel literature, this paper argues that Through Canada with a Kodak (1893) – the personal text and photographic collection of The Countess of Aberdeen’s first two tours across Canada – circulates as a ‘multivalent’ object that existed, and still exists, within a socially constructed visual and material realm. As such, The Countess of Aberdeen’s book signifies itself as both an ideological and commoditized form of historical representation. It is, at once, both a producer of imperialist images and ideas, and a commodity of history itself.
Through Canada includes eighty-four photographs, half of which were snapped by the Countess herself using a Kodak camera, and half of which she purchased from professionals. The nineteenth-century reader could relate to the snaps of ‘ordinary’ British settlers where the ‘timeless’, sublime grandeur of the landscape instilled a sense of colonial pride of conquest for British citizens and provided a promise of liberation and transcendence for the potential emigrant. Memories, meanings, and identifications are made through representations of people and places that the reader has never seen and has no real biological or geographic connection to. The images found in Lady Aberdeen’s photographs functioned to ‘replace’ actual travel. Through Canada provided a contemplative/passive version of an actual active experience while, at the same time, promoting an active political agenda/ideology.