Polyfoto of unknown woman

Research output: Other contribution


What is the value of a portrait when we don't know who is in it? Knowing the Unknown Sitter was an on-line anthology of texts relating to ten unidentified portraits, selected from a wealth of material found in national collections across the UK. Through the discussion of these portraits, unknownsitter.com raised questions about the nature of identity, representation, and the role of the observer in interpreting visual images. The result of an initial collaboration between artist Nicky Bird and art historian Lara Perry, and funded by the British Academy, the project brought together writers from a range of disciplines as well as portraits - some of which have never been published before - to explore the problem of the unknown sitter, and the value of their portraits, once identity has been lost. Pollen's commissioned contribution examined a sheet of mid-century Polyfoto portraits held in the collection of the National Media Museum, where both the photographer and the sitter were unknown. Exploring a range of debates about studio photography, personal photographs, pose, performance and autobiography, the essay tested methodological approaches to the interpretation of found images.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherKnowing the Unknown Sitter
Place of PublicationUK
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


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