Research

Objects of Migration, Photo-Objects of Art History: Encounters in an Archive

Costanza Caraffa, Almut Goldhahn, Massimo Ricciardo

Massimo Ricciardo installing Encounters, January, 16, 2020. © Photothek, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut. Photo: Bärbel Reinhard

Global migration, which is one of the most pressing matters facing our present-day world, is also a leitmotif in the work of artist Massimo Ricciardo. Since the year 2013, Ricciardo has collected objects in Sicily; objects that had accompanied refugees on their way across the Mediterranean Sea and were later thrown away or lost – and sometimes had to be handed over to the authorities when they arrived. These include articles that have an immediate connection to the journey such as water bottles, nautical charts, and life jackets, as well as completely personal articles including photographs, notebooks, and devotional souvenirs. In the temporary installation Encounters, which was shown on several occasions in the rooms of the Photothek between 2017 and 2020, the artist had some of these objects enter into a dialogue with photo-objects and the archival structures of the Photothek. This confrontation gave rise to questions relating to burning issues of our time: Who do the objects belong to? Are they part of a cultural heritage? What are the adequate artistic, curatorial, and archival practices needed to do justice to this complex and sensitive material? In the sense of an engaged art history, this installation provides the point of departure for a joint book project that is being supported by the Ministero della Cultura within the framework of the Italian Council X – 2021 programme.

Almut Goldhahn und Massimo Ricciardo: Objects of Migration—Photo-Objects of Art History. Encounters in an Archive
In: Visual Anthropology, 34.4 (2021), pp. 339–367
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