Torn, Folded, Curled: Orphan photographs sourced from the Arab Image Foundation

Journal article

paula roush Torn, Folded, Curled: Orphan photographs sourced from the Arab Image Foundation.
Authorspaula roush

“Torn, Folded, Curled: Orphan Photographs Sourced From the Arab Image Foundation (Crafting an Archaeology of the Recent Past, One Photobookwork at a Time)” is a reflection on the methodologies I developed during a residency at the Arab Image Foundation, a MENA—Middle East North Africa—photographic archive.

The focus is the investigation into different types of archival organisation in public photographic archives and their translation into photobook structures. Working with orphan photographs that are “torn, folded, curled”— a term used at the Arab Image Foundation to categorise heavily damaged photographs that require special care in storage and preservation—meant developing specific strategies to account for themes of war and memory in photobook sequencing.

The essay uses five anchors of my practice- organised around three photobooks sourced from the Arab Image Foundation photography collections – to analyse ways in which photographic and book art practices integrate with and complement each other in the work with photographic archives.

1. The photographic collection: how to handle a large number of photographs, using the group/series/sequence formula;
2. The story-showing technique: a documentary approach to elevate orphan photographs from archival storage to lived experience;
3. The photo-text authorial position: how to combine photographs with text and typography for creative disruption of meaning;
4. The haptic mode: the sensorial and materiality identity of the book object that engages the reader’s sense of touch;
5. The book dummy: the handmade maquette used for project development and get the work seen by partners or a publisher.

Paper presented at
The Archive: Visual Culture In The Middle East Symposium
(Publishing as an Intellectual Design Platform: Lebanon)
Lebanese American University, School of Architecture & Design
Department of Art & Design symposium.
Organised by Yasmine Nachabe Taan and Melissa Plourde Khoury.
LAU Byblos campus, April 5, 2019

Note:The paper has been submitted for peer-review to be published online through the symposium website

Keywordsphotobook, art publishing, orphan photography, photographic archives, archival art
Web address (URL)
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Dec 2020
Accepted author manuscript
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