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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

CANCELLED - Forms of Time Public Lecture: ‘Archival Islands: The Croquison’s Donation in the Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence’

11th March 2013, 18:15 to 19:15, Room 140, Elvet Riverside Building, Dr Costanza Caraffa, Director of the Photothek, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence

Apologies but this lecture has had to be cancelled due to health reasons.

The paper focuses on the donation (61 photographs) made in 1967 by the Benedictine friar Joseph Croquison (1890-1977), eminent Belgian scholar of Byzantine and Medieval art. The photographs, made between 1860 and 1870 and depicting almost exclusively monuments of the Eastern Mediterranean regions (Cairo, Philae, Petra, Baalbek, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Athens and other areas), constitute within the Florentine archive an outlandish ‘island’ – from the archival point of view they are located outside the temporal and spatial remits of the collection, mostly devoted to Italian art and architecture. They also visualise the status of monuments in a period prior to Croquison’s time, and therefore raise questions concerning the ‘biography’ of these objects outside the scholarly aims of their collector, allowing us to reconstruct the context and motivation of both his collection and his donation. The paper discusses their singular location in an archive, whose temporality and historicity they seem to escape – for photographs, as Derrida (‘impressioner le temps par tous les temps’) puts it, are material objects living their own time.


Costanza Caraffa studied architecture and art history in Milan (Politecnico) and Berlin (Freie Universität, PhD 2003). She was scientific assistant at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome and then coordinator of research activities at the Archivio del Moderno, Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio (CH). Since 2006 she is Head of the Photothek at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut. Among her publications are Gaetano Chiaveri (1689-1770) architetto romano della Hofkirche di Dresda (2006) and, as editor, Fotografie als Instrument und Medium der Kunstgeschichte (2009) as well as Photo Archives and the Photographic Memory of Art History (2011).

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