Photography Network Virtual Symposium: Photography’s Frameworks

Patricia Hayes, FIAS Fellow 2023-2024 IAS Nantes & Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape
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Online symposium hosted by the Photography Network at Rutgers University, taking place from 12-14 October 2023.


Patricia Hayes (co-organiser) is National Research Foundation SARChI Chair in Visual History & Theory at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape. Her research background is in African history, and she engages extensively with photographic archives and their methodological challenges to bring together history and aesthetics in different southern African settings. She is co-editor of Ambivalent. Photography and Visibility in African History (2019), the special issue of the journal Kronos (2020) on ‘Other Lives of the Image,’ and Love and Revolution in the Twentieth-Century Colonial and Postcolonial World: Perspectives from South Asia and Southern Africa (2021). 

About the Symposium

Photography Network’s third annual symposium will be held virtually and hosted jointly with the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. In honor of the UWC’s New Archival Visions Programme—an initiative to activate the university’s archival holdings through research, fellowships, and curatorial projects—this symposium considers the subject of frameworks in the study of photography. 

In recent years, “framing” and “reframing” have become buzzwords for describing new approaches to the study of photography, including the 2018 volume Photography Reframed: New Visions in Photographic Culture, the ReFrame project at the Harvard Art Museums launched in 2021, and the ongoing archival initiative, “Framing the Field: Photography's Histories in American Institutions.” Projects like the Art Institute of Chicago’s 2023 Field Guide to Photography and Media exhibition and catalogue and the recent Vision & Justice initiative encourage reflection on how histories of photography have been constructed and how certain interventions can be made to create a more equitable field moving forward. Such interventions might also draw on “reframing” projects from the global south that interrogate colonial and metropolitan categories and temporal schemas in the history of global photography, such as the 2020 Kronos special issue on “Other Lives of the Image” and the 2019 publication Ambivalent: Photography and Visibility in African History. 

This symposium aims to gather these types of initiatives into one space for shared reflection and future collaboration. Using the construction of a “framework” in reference to both conceptual schema and physical structures, we ask how larger patterns of social, ideological, material, economic, and environmental forces have shaped and continue to shape photographs as objects in circulation and in archival repositories. How have past theoretical, methodological, and institutional frameworks structured, and in many instances limited, the field? What work have these frames performed in the creation and interpretation of photographs and their histories? Which frameworks have been overlooked, and what types of interventions can make the most impactful changes? 

Symposium Schedule



Registration for the 2023 Photography Network Virtual Symposium: Photography’s Frameworks here.