War, Photo Archives and the Temporalities of Cultural Heritage
organized by Costanza Caraffa, Almut Goldhahn (Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max Planck Institut, Florence) and Ewa Manikowska (Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw) with the generous support of the Deutsch-Polnische Wissenschaftsstiftung
What do photographic archives tell us about cultural heritage and the ways it is shaped by military and political conflicts? This workshop seeks to investigate the entanglements between war, cultural heritage and photography from a wider chronological and critical perspective. It aims to broaden the scope of research beyond its traditional focus on the politics of representation and on the consequences of armed conflicts for monumental heritage. Its premise is the recognition that both institutional negotiations and private conversations about what is to be defined as cultural heritage take place very often in relation to conflicts and in front of photographs, photo collections and photo albums – or digital images shared on social networks.
Historically, the notion of cultural heritage was impelled by war and intertwined with the establishment of photographic archives. This notion is anything but static: it has been enlarged and adapted over time in order to serve different political and identity projects. Through international institutions it has been consolidated at the global scale, but also constantly reshaped. Acknowledging the importance of rescue or reconstruction initiatives, the workshop emphasises that these must always be seen in relation to geopolitical agendas and societal contexts. It thus seeks to investigate how photography serves as a tool for the protection and at the same time also for the production of a certain idea of cultural heritage in a given cultural context. It also intends to interrogate recent technological advances, their effectiveness, practical challenges and socio-political consequences. The workshop will therefore contribute to the deconstruction and rethinking of the concept of 'cultural heritage'. This concept will be historicised and problematised vis-à-vis a range of different photographic archives as well as historical and current photographic practices.
The workshop will consider WWI and WWII photographic archives not only as documentation of the destruction of monuments: they also preserve the collective memory of genocide and racism as well as private memories of war. All these aspects play a part in the dynamic process of the making of cultural heritage. It will enquire into the present-day role of these photo archives in post-conflict reconciliation and in preserving and maintaining the heritage and memory of war, and will explore their often contested meanings. Further case studies will help to facilitate a critical analysis of current re-negotiations of cultural heritage that are taking place on a global scale in relation to recent conflicts – e.g. in Syria and Egypt – and digital image production. Last but not least, the workshop will look at photographic archives as cultural heritage, analysing their collective and individual dimensions.
The workshop is preceded by a evening lecture by Pawel Machcewicz on 18 April 2018.