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Into the Archive. On the Materiality of Photographs

Multiple Originals

Photographs are not only reproductions of the objects, persons and events represented in them, as might at first sight be suggested, for example, by passepartout-mounted prints. They are themselves three-dimensional material objects. As such they are subject to the processes of wear and tear; they are used, handled, turned around, mounted, stamped and classified. Various photo-objects can be created from a single model: including negatives, slides, prints or digital images. Just as heterogeneous as their physical embodiments are the circumstances in which they are conserved (folders, boxes, card-indexes, filing cabinets) and the networks in which they circulate. Photographs, whether analog or digital, circulate worldwide in archives, museums, research institutes, universities and private collections. They traverse social, political, cultural and historical contexts and, consequently, are received and used in very different ways. As complex mobile and social objects, photographs significantly shape daily life, scientific practices and political messages and are simultaneously generated by these. They are multiple originals – reproducible, multi-faceted; and yet at the same time they are unique, due to the material traces by which each is characterized.


Boston (MA): Daniel P. Parker’s Mansion, niche, silver gelatin print in closed passepartout, Frank Cousins, ca. 1910, 23,4 x 18 cm (photo), inv. no. 1913, 610, Sammlung Fotografie, Kunstbibliothek, SMB.

Boston (MA): Daniel P. Parker’s Mansion, niche, silver gelatin print on cardboard mount in open passepartout, Frank Cousins, ca. 1910, 23,4 x 18 cm (photo), inv. no. 1913, 610, Sammlung Fotografie, Kunstbibliothek, SMB.

Thurible with Mamluk emblem, Cairo 1250/1517, Museo Correr e Quadreria Correr, Venice (detail), silver gelatin print on cardboard mount, unidentified photographer, 1905, 18,6 x 13,3 cm (photo), inv. no. 8359, bequest Gustav Ludwig, section applied arts, Photothek, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – MPI.

Thurible with Mamluk emblem, Cairo 1250/1517, Museo Correr e Quadreria Correr, Venice, silver gelatin print on cardboard mount, unidentified photographer, 1905, 18,6 x 13,3 cm (photo), inv. no. 8359, bequest Gustav Ludwig, section applied arts, Photothek, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – MPI.

Fragment of the western frieze of the Artemision in Magnesia on the Maeander, collodion print on cardboard mount, Carl Humann?, 1891, 11,7 x 19,4 cm (photo), neg. no. PM 1443, inv. no. FA-Mag04-0002, Antikensammlung, SMB.

Fragment of the western frieze of the Artemision in Magnesia on the Maeander, albumen print on cardboard mount, Carl Humann?, 1891, 11,3 x 20,2 cm (photo), neg. no. PM 1443, Inv. no. FA-Mag04-0001, Antikensammlung, SMB.

Fragment of the western frieze of the Artemision in Magnesia on the Maeander, collodion print on cardboard mount, Carl Humann?, 1891, 13,9 x 20,5 cm (photo), neg. no. PM 1443, inv. no. FA-Mag04-0004, Antikensammlung, SMB.

Fragment of the western frieze of the Artemision in Magnesia on the Maeander, albumen print on cardboard mount, Carl Humann?, 1891, 7,2 x 18,7 cm (photo), neg. no. PM 1444, inv. no. FA-Mag04-0003, Antikensammlung, SMB.

Photographic roll film as photo-object, digital photograph, Wiebke Zeil, 2016, Hahne-Niehoff-Archiv, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, HU Berlin.

Contact copy, digital photograph, Franka Schneider, 2015, Hahne-Niehoff-Archiv, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, HU Berlin.

Straw bear with guide, mounted in a foldable index-card, Heinz Julius Niehoff, undated, 7,7 x 13,5 cm (photo), in: card box sign. B.I.2.4.14.–3, Archiv der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Landesstelle für Volkskunde, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, HU Berlin.

Bathing at the Grochlitzer Gries, mounted on record sheet, H. G. Pernutz, 1938, 11,5 x 17,2 cm (photo), in: postal package, provisory sign. HNN 16, Hahne-Niehoff-Archiv, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, HU Berlin.

The holding Magnesia on the Maeander at the photo archive of the Antikensammlung, digital photograph, Petra Wodtke, 2016, Antikensammlung, SMB.

Archival boxes: the Munich holdings, digital photograph, Andras Veg, 2015, Sammlung Fotografie, Kunstbibliothek, SMB.

Mounted photographs and boxes from the applied arts section of the photo library, digital photograph, Stefano Fancelli, 2015, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – MPI.

Box No. 6 of the Hahne-Niehoff-Archive, digital photograph, Julia Bärnighausen, 2016, Hahne-Niehoff-Archiv, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, HU Berlin and Photothek, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – MPI.




© KHI in Florence | 16.10.2021 13:55:10