Catherine E. Clark (MIT) discusses the life cycle of anonymous photographic archives.
This paper examines the trope of ‘trash to treasure’ in the history of photo archives. This paper’s key example is the revaluation and profit generation of an archive of amateur prints and albums collected in the 1980s by a French production company based in Marseille. They were used primarily for a show ‘Souvenirs, souvenirs’ that ran on ARTE in the 1980s. This paper will use this show and its archive to think through the life cycle of similar anonymous photographic archives. It asks: is there anything particularly photographic about trash-treasure narratives? What role does quantity play in producing photographic value? And how do photographs form new, secondary, affective meanings?