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March 2016

Postcard from France: Investigating the history of French sequential photography

I’m a PhD candidate in art history at the University of British Columbia, where I’m developing my dissertation on the history and theory of sequential photography in the United States and France during the 1970s and 1980s.

Sequential photography is best described as multiple photographic images arranged in sequences that explore the medium’s relationships to movement, memory, or narrative over an extended period of time. As part of my research, I spent three months in Paris, France, with support from the Mitacs Globalink Research Award.

Once I arrived in Paris, I spent most of my time in libraries and archives, such as the Bibliothèque interuniversitaire de la Sorbonne, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Bibliothèque Kandinsky at Centre Pompidou, and the Bibliothèque Roméo Martinez at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie.

I began by browsing through a range of French photography magazines and journals circulated in the 1970s and 1980s. Then I conducted research on various photobooks and exhibition catalogs from those same eras. I devoted my last month to investigating monographic publications by French photography scholars.

My host supervisor in the Université Paris-Sorbonne invited me as a visiting researcher at the Centre Victor Basch. I benefited greatly from this arrangement, as it allowed me to connect with other scholars and archivists at various French institutions. I anticipate that this network of intellectual relationships will be expanded even further during exhibition openings, archival consultations, and symposia.

I had anticipated travelling to Paris, given that my project delved into the passionate reception of the 1970s American photography among French intellectuals in the 1980s. The Mitacs Globalink Research Award provided me with an invaluable opportunity to pursue an extended period of research in Paris. The city’s archives and libraries allowed me to access and investigate materials that weren’t readily available in North America, such as dissertations, self-published photobooks, and exhibition ephemera.

Mitacs would like to thank the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec their support of the Globalink Research Award program. In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with international partners to support this award, including Campus France and Inria, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord.