About the Conference

Sandra Ramos, Matutino (Morning), 2010

Photography’s Afterlives brings together artists, photo historians, curators, and theorists of visual culture to reflect on the afterlives of everyday vernacular images.  Speakers will discuss how photography as a practice of everyday life acquires new meanings as images are collected, displayed, and reframed in changing historical and political circumstances. Looking at a variety of photographic genres (portraits and selfies, ID and passport photos, family photos, school pictures, street photos, prison photographs, tourist images and more) from different parts of the world, and at the work of artists who reframe and comment on them, conference speakers will explore the ways in which photography not only documents but actually shapes personal, social and political life.

This comparative discussion across photography’s multiple geographies and histories promises to add to current theoretical inquiries into everyday photographic practices.  Engaging specifically what photos do when they are taken, and what they continue to do as historical, memorial and aesthetic objects, this conference will also reflect on what they can do as media of activism and social transformation.

The conference will consist of artist conversations and a mixture of panels and roundtables with short talks on specific historical images and their afterlives.

Scholars, curators and artists participating include Ariella Azoulay (Brown), Brenda J. Child (University of Minnesota), Eduardo Cadava (Princeton University), Ángeles Donoso Macaya (Borough of Manhattan Community College), Barbara Kirshenblatt –Gimblett (NYU and Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews), Gil Hochberg (Columbia), Mirta Kupferminc (Argentina); Susan Meiselas (Magnum Photos), Lorie Novak (NYU); Isin Önol (Curator, Vienna-Istanbul-New York), Thy Phu (Western), Sandra Ramos, (Cuba); Diana Taylor (NYU); Brian Wallis (The Walther Collection), Deborah Willis (NYU), Jorge Villacorta (Peru).

Laura Wexler (Yale) will be giving the Zantop Memorial Lecture on April 2 as a conference keynote.

The conference accompanies an exhibit at the Hood Museum of Art on “School Photos and Their Afterlives” (January 6- April 12, 2020). Several of the artists whose work is part of the Hood exhibit will present at the conference.

Conference organizers: Marianne Hirsch, Silvia Spitta, Leo Spitzer