Photography was brought into being by a sense of transience. This workshop will consider the ways that such images are profoundly related to historical change, fleeting time and substance, as well as the desire to record, express, or even ‘capture’ what is passing. Beyond expectations, the micro-temporalities of photographs have the capacity to inscribe the contingent and the aleatory, memorably theorized as the optical unconscious. The idiom of chasing shadows was deployed by South African photographer Santu Mofokeng in his work on spirituality and toxicity, the ephemeral and the invisible.
But photography has not only been deployed to stabilize what is fleeting, it also destabilizes. It is related to change but also effects change. In this workshop, we are interested in grappling with the following dimensions of transience:
Materiality–as material or digital objects, and despite being ‘fixed’ and in storage, images are unstable and ever-evolving. Their status and condition may change.
Epistemology–images bring instability to what they represent, despite intentions. They might be fixed in classificatory categories, in colonial genres, and we are interested in what happens when these are disrupted and become ‘unfixed.’
Curating–what does producing, archiving, researching or curating images do in terms of the movement of historical thought, temporal affect, and cultural praxis?
Our keynote speaker will be Professor Zeynep Devrim Gürsel from Rutgers University, who will present on ‘Portraits of Unbelonging: Photography, Nationality, Mobility.’
The workshop is inter-disciplinary. We invite participants to submit short abstracts that address issues of transience in relation to the image. These might include image categories (whether porous or consistent), transient materialities, and the relationship between photography and fleeting time. Papers are not restricted to photography, and may discuss other kinds of image. While the workshop aims to prioritise in-person presentations, online presentations and hybrid participation will be possible.
Date: 19 – 20 August 2022
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 13 July 2022
Venue: Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape
Abstracts & Enquiries: to Patricia Hayes at email@example.com
The CHR fellowship programme will continue in 2022 through online platforms and, where permitted, limited live events hosted in compliance with COVID-19 protocols. Please follow our events page for updates about events.