This book chapter provides a detailed social biography of a photographic collection. The collection was shaped by a combination of artistic and political ambitions, held by the photographer and those who sponsored and appropriated his work. The photographs were shown in exhibitions in Cape Town (1952) and London (1955) which promoted particular social reform and political agendas. Yet, at the same time, a number of the photographs appeared in decidedly more artistic venues, such as US Camera and Edward Steichen’s Post-war European Photography exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Fifty years on, after a period in which the photographs had settled for a quiet life in the photographer’s personal collection, the intervention of the researcher has begun to raise afresh questions of their social existence and value, their art and politics. The chapter reflects on the research engagement as it has sought to bring the photographs back to audiences in South Africa, and elsewhere, through publication and exhibition; negotiating the meaning of historical photographs in a contemporary context still grappling with the social and political legacy of the past to which they refer. It concludes with a discussion of the ethical issues surrounding the identification of a permanent institutional home, or homes, for the collection, and how settling this question may shape its future interpretation.
|Title of host publication||Photographs, museums, collections: between art and information|
|Editors||E. Edwards, C. Morton|
|Place of Publication||London|
|Number of pages||17|
|Publication status||Published - 19 May 2015|