Appropriation Archives and Vernacular 

Why was Duchamp’s Urinal (‘Fountain’) the most important piece of art in the 20th century?

  • It’s a joke on art.
  • It was shocking; we wouldn’t have Damien Hurst’s shark and Jeff Koon’s inflatable bunny without Duchamp’s urinal from 1917

An Archive

A place in which public records or historical documents are stored.

Walter Benjamin’s Archive

  • More than just institutional archive
  • Modern day archives
  • Contemporary archives


Vernacular photography

  • Refers to creations of photographs, usually by amateur or unknown photographers, who take everyday life and common things as subjects.

In almost every picture

  • Ria at shooting gallery
  • Ria would, every year, go to the shooting gallery at a travelling fair and hit the bulls eye so would get a photo taken
  • Happened for 70 years
  • Vernacular photography

Kesel Kramer

  • Puts images together
  • Swan song for family albums: believes they are over
  • Vernacular

Book: ‘Taliban’ 2005

  • By Dworzac
  • What was officially being done and what people were actually doing was very different
  • Put together the images of the Taliban in the book: quite surreal

Joachim Schmid

  • Very Miscellaneous
  • Made sense of archive with found portraits
  • Drew peoples eyes to the text

Mohini Chandra

  • Book of photographs but only the back of the photograph
  • So you never actually see the photograph
  • Believed all the information you needed about that photograph was on the back

Rachel James

  • I know you Lucy Booth

John Stezaker

Christian Boltanski

  • Uses archive images to tell a story
  • Uses a lot of holocaust stuff
  • Immortalize ordinary people
  • Shows the plight of the jews

Shuka Glotman

Unhistorical moments

Photos of a town that doesn’t exist

  • Time capsule
  • Sees the images as a testament to the towns existence
  • Uses leaves on background of photos because they are indigenous to the area

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

  • People in trouble (Contacts)
  • Asked to intervene in the archives of Belfast exposed
  • Kept the tags, dots, circles that were used to highlight images and reprinted them
  • Currently being shown in the Saatchi gallery
  • People in trouble (dots)
  • Peeled back the dots to find out what was underneath and printed what was underneath

Walid Raad

  • Let’s be honest the weather helped
  • Grew up during bombings
  • Took photos of town disintegrating around him
  • 70’s
  • Spots on images corresponds with country supplied bombs to which side
  • As a boy would collect shells and could figure out who supplied the bomb to the militia

Susan Meiselas

  • Kurdistan
  • In the shadow of history
  • Plight of the Kurdish identity
  • How they are being written out of history
  • Kurdish hid their photos underground because they had to suppress that they were of a different ethnic background
  • Website asks people of Kurdish nationality to send in pictures
  • About identity


Giving us two videos made entirely of archives: none was shot by the filmmakers.


Grizzly Man

  • Whose Archive is it?
  • Whose story is it?
  • Who is the Author?

Could these stories be told without found footage/ archival material?


Further Viewing

  • Tarnation 2004
  • Capturing Freemans 2003
  • Look at images put on Google docs: without knowing anything, figure out what you know about the image.