On Alinari: Archive in Transition

Costanza Caraffa, Armin Linke

Armin Linke, The Alinari Archive in Storage in Calenzano, 2020. © Armin Linke, 2020

Five million photographic objects. A photographic heritage of international interest with a history that began in 1852. A move from the headquarters at Largo Alinari 1 in the centre of Florence to a specialized storage facility in the Calenzano industrial park on the city’s outskirts. A time of transition between the acquisition by the Regione Toscana in 2019 and the transfer to the future headquarters of the new Fondazione Alinari per la Fotografia. A milestone shift from private company to public institution. Superlatives are not enough to describe the scope of the institutionalisation of what had been, up until that point, the Fratelli Alinari S.p.A. archive.

This project was started in 2020 as a collaboration between the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and the Regione Toscana. The Alinari ecosystem – which like all ecosystems is unstable and dynamic – has certainly undergone many changes over the years, but none as drastic as the move from its historic headquarters in Florence. And yet, this change of habitat calls to be interpreted as a productive time of transformation. A group of international scholars was invited to reflect on the potential of this transitional state during an online study day (13 October 2020) and an internal workshop. Their articles in the book On Alinari: Archive in Transition engage in conversation with artist Armin Linke who, in a photographic essay, finds his own way of performing the aesthetics of the photographic archive, focusing his camera on the stored crates and boxes and emphasizing by contrast the value of their content. An entire section of the book is devoted to the “archive in transition” as a collective work: in a series of interviews conducted in Florence in October 2020, Armin Linke listened to some of the actors involved in the Alinari firm and the recent institutional transformation. The result is a dialogue between theory and practice that examines and questions the process of institutionalizing photographic archives.


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