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Arnolfini - est 1961

IC-Visual Lab & Arnolfini present a one-day symposium, exploring the many ways visual archives are used within art and photography today.

Join us as we welcome a range of international artists, curators, and researchers – all of whom are reinterpreting archival material, building new archives, or facilitating the use of existing archives within their respective practices.

Speakers include:

Amak Mahmoodian – NeghaB

In 1844 an Iranian woman posed for a photograph, taken by the Qajar King, Naserod-din Shah, who took up photography following the gift of a camera from Queen Victoria. In 2004 Amak Mahmoodian began working with the Golestan Museum archives, held in central Tehran in a building that was once the home of the King’s wives. Using archival photographs as masks, Mahmoodian begun photographing the women around her, exploring both the past and present situation for women living in Iran.

Charbel Saad – Arab Image Foundation

Charbel Saad is the head of digital collections at the Arab Image Foundation. Established in Beirut in 1997, the Foundation holds a collection of more than 600,000 photographs from the mid-19th century to the present day. It was formed as a reaction to the lack of photographic archives in the region and the rapid disappearance of the few that remained.

Francesca Seravalle – Everything has its first time

Whilst researching the first photograph uploaded to the internet, Francesa Seravelle realized there way thousands of ‘first photos’, all of which inform the society we live in today. “I started to chase many first photos, from the 1820s to the present day, following four tracks: photographic inventions, scientific and technological discoveries, historical landmarks, and first seen visions of nature.”

Maja Daniels – Elf Dalia

In 2012 Maja Daniels began working in the Swedish region of Älvdalen, exploring the intersection between modern lifestyles and historic cultural traditions, often imbued with mysticism. Daniels work involves producing new photographs and working with the archive of photographer Tenn Lars Persson (1878).

Thomas Sauvin – Beijing Silvermine

Beijing Silvermine is an archive of 500,000 negatives salvaged over the last seven years from a recycling plant on the edge of Beijing. Assembled by artist Thomas Sauvin, Beijing Silvermine offers a unique photographic portrait of the Chinese capital and the life of its inhabitants in the decades following the Cultural Revolution.

Vicki Bennett – Processing The Product

Since 1991 Vicki Bennett has been making CDs, radio and AV multimedia under the name People Like Us. Her work animates and re-contextualises found footage, providingng a witty, dark and surreal view of popular culture. People Like Us broadcasts an ongoing experimental arts radio and podcast show on WFMU, called “DO or DIY”, which, since it began in 2003 has had over a million downloads.

Kensuke Koike – Today’s curiosity

Koike’s collage works are known for his playfulness and humorous approaches to archival material. During this symposium, Koike’s video-art pieces from his series Today’s curiosity will be screened throughout the day.



This event is organised by IC-Visual Lab with the support of the Arts Council of England and is co-presented with Arnolfini.


IC‐Visual Lab is  an  independent  photography  organisation based  in  Bristol, focussing  on  the education  and  promotion  of  contemporary  photography.  Its  remit  is  to  support  the  development  of photographic practice across all approaches and for all audiences.