History of Photography European Network
1 History of Photography
History of Photography is a relatively new discipline with a strong connection to History or to Art History; it entered the museum before entering the university. There is a clear corpus for history of photography, and this corpus is beginning to be widely known by the greater public, up to the point of being used in advertising. This is to be expected by a image centered society, however critical thinking on photography is not so widely known, and it is still possible to write a history of art or a general history, without any reference to photography, or at least taking its role in serious account.
Up to recent years History of Photography has been mostly centered in a few central countries, only recently researcher from other countries arrived to bring some light into their local histories, but peripheral countries history of photography is still rather confidential outside their respective countries. Fortunately there is a lot of work being done.
2 The need for a network
History of Photography researchers are a mostly dispersed and heterogeneous community with just a few research centers dedicated to History of Photography, a number of researchers working on diverse research centers, ranging from architecture to literature, but including History, Art or Social Science. There are also a great number of researchers working in archives and museums, not to speak of independent researchers. As a whole History of Photography researchers are more disperse than those working in other areas.
EU and national official funding has been central to European research, however this funding has been progressively more centered on exact science. This funding does have also a strict set of rules not easy to fulfill by history of photography researchers. There is the need to have work on smaller sets of countries with similarities, as well as to have work done on greater geographic entities not comprehended by EU projects.
Dispersion means there lack of communication, even if we are now better than a few years ago, and the difficulty to create cooperative projects. It is even more difficult to include independent researchers into projects.
At this point there is also the need to overcome some cultural difficulties in order to create a wider community of researchers.
A History of Photography Research Network could contribute to connect those who are isolated and to overcome cultural differences. It should be an important tool for the development of History of Photography as a recognized area.
3 The network
Modern communications and web based services make easy and not expensive to create such a network, its success depends more on getting a wide researchers acceptance than from having great resources.
This network is supposed to act like a meeting point for researchers and a place to share contacts, experience, work, resources. It could also be a repository for texts and other work, a platform for divulgation of books, exhibitions, conferences, information, and, not the least, a platform for discussions and joint projects.
It should be important for the scholar and the researcher, but also to the general public with more than a passing interest in History of Photography.
4 The site
The site is one of the most important parts of this network. It is the way of presenting the network to a wider audience, but it is also the main means of communication. It would be possible to have free hosting and amateurish in house design, however it would be desirable to have a professionally designed site. Skipping free housing would also give control over advertising. The website creates the need for private funding, as it does not into current funding programs. Funding by the photographic industry is could be also an endorsement and a mutual benefit.
5 The congress
Among the goals of this network should be organizing a European History of Photography Congress. Recent conferences organized in several countries were remarkably successful, and there is a definite possibility of organizing a more comprehensive activity if there is a joint effort between several research centers and other organizations. Having an annual congress may be not feasible; however a bi-yearly congress seems to be a realistic proposition.
6 Further possible developments
Among suggestions are theme related and general European Photographic Histories, and an E-Magazine, or with the necessary resources a paper magazine.
We hope this network to organize research centers, archives, museums and other institutions, as well as independent researchers and collectors. At this point we are passing the stage of individual contacts to try to reach a broader audience. This is far from a finished project and all feedback is most welcome. We would also like to know of your view on the subject, even if not positive, and of your personal and/or institutional willingness to be a part of the network.