Photo-Objects and "Applied Arts" in the Photothek
An Online Exhibition of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz
Photographs are not only images but also three-dimensional objects shaped by history and use, whose biographies are revealed in the signs deriving from wear and tear, inscriptions, numbering, retouching, damage, alterations, and in the traces left by the most different agents. Photographs are not limited to reproducing objects. In fact, they are material artefacts themselves leading a double existence as "photo-objects". The international debate on the materiality of photographs and photo archives has shaped the research activities of the Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz for some years. The collaborative project "Photo-objects – photographs as objects (of research) in archaeology, ethnology and art history", promoted by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of "The language of objects" programme, is also based on this approach. The Florentine Photo Library is pursuing this project in cooperation with the Photography Collection of the Kunstbibliothek and the Antikensammlung (both part of the State Museums of Berlin) as well as the Institut of European Ethnology of Humboldt-Universität in Berlin. In Florence, specifically, the investigation is focused on the "Applied Arts" section of the Photothek. With this online exhibition we aim at presenting this archival fund by picking up (at least virtually) some of the photographs collected here, examining them as material objects that can speak – and listening to them. In autumn 2016, a subsequent online exhibition will be dedicated to the entire collaborative project.