Symposium “Re-defining photography within the context of cultural heritage”


ColaboracionesIVAM Centre Julio González

This symposium will be hosted by the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM) and organized by the ICOM-CC Photographic Materials Working Group in collaboration with the Spanish Group of the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (GE-IIC). It will take place on September 23, 2023, immediately following the 20th Triennial Conference of ICOM-CC.

The event aims to encourage an open debate on what we understand as photography in our time. This need to reflect on the definition of photography arises from the current situation in which photographic heritage is at a crossroads between the analogue and the digital. Conventional definitions of the word “photography” are still typically associated with technical concepts and, in many cases, are not fully applicable to digital-born photographic images. On the other hand, if we aim to work towards a sustainable past, it is necessary to clearly define the object of that past, and this is a major shortcoming with photography.

Indeed, photography holds undeniable cultural value, communication power, and unique characteristics that materialize as complex objects with multiple layers of information. Therefore, if we intend to preserve photographs, it is essential to establish a new definition that covers in depth all that they encompass. By doing so, the change in definition will have consequences for the future of cultural heritage professionals working with photograph collections.

The proposed activity is a one-day symposium. In the morning, there will be short lectures by experts in the field with diverse backgrounds. After a lunch break, attendees will be divided into groups to discuss the definition of photography. The symposium will conclude with a roundtable centred around the concept of photography, what we truly aim to preserve, and what are the strategies we need to put in place to do so. The goal of this event is not to provide a concrete new definition of photography, but rather, a starting point to further debate and reflect on this topic, as it evolves and continues to affect different stakeholders.

This symposium is aimed at all cultural heritage professionals working with photography, ranging from students to professionals in the fields of art history, fine arts and conservation, collection managers and other museum and archive professionals, as well as members of the general public who are interested in art, photography, and the preservation of cultural heritage.

More information and registration here