The Ryerson Image Centre hosts symposium on photography historians

Courtesy of Ralph Crane, [Professor Hildebrand looks at his class, University of California], October 1948, gelatin silver print. The Black Star Collection, Ryerson Image Centre.

Courtesy of Ralph Crane, [Professor Hildebrand looks at his class, University of California], October 1948, gelatin silver print. The Black Star Collection, Ryerson Image Centre.

Eight emerging scholars from around the world are getting a rare chance to rub elbows with the some of the most renowned photography historians.

The Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) is hosting its fourth annual symposium, “Photography Historians: A New Generation? bringing together academics from Europe and North America to highlight the current research of rising photo-historians. The symposium has exceeded its capacity of 150 attendees for both days of the event so far.

“The idea is to make (the scholars) talk together, which is actually something rare because as soon as you are established you are navigating in the world of the established scholars. When you are still a young and emerging scholar, it’s always very difficult to get access to this world,” said Thierry Gervais, the organizer of the symposium and head of research at the RIC.

Gervais said the title of the symposium is not a statement and is instead questioning the idea of a new generation of scholars.

“It’s very difficult to know because they are emerging scholars, so they have not published books upon books that we know about. (The symposium) is a risk we had to take to know what’s happening in our field and what will happen in the next 10 or 20 years when all these young and new emerging scholars will be teaching in universities.”

Over a span of two-and-a-half days — March 26 to 28 — the conference is divided into four parts to highlight the main themes to be discussed: “The Role of Photographic Reproductions,” “The Business of Photography,” “The Construction of Photographic Meanings” and “Art Photography in the Making.”

Established researchers  like Marta Braun of Ryerson University and Larry Schaaf of the University of Oxford will attend, as well as emerging academics  from the University of California, Princeton University and the prestigious J. Paul Getty Museum.

Gervais wanted a range of young scholars in order to give them the exposure that they often don’t receive so early in their careers. “It was very important for me to (give exposure to young scholars) at Ryerson inside the Ryerson Image Centre because that’s where things are happening,” said Gervais. “I want to make the RIC a hub for emerging scholars in the field of history of photography.”

Admission to the symposium is free and open to the public. Gervais hopes that this will draw people of different studies and backgrounds to attend.

“In a world like ours nowadays, we are totally submerged by images. So we still have a lot of work to do in terms of visual literacy and this is exactly what’s going to happen over the symposium — it will be education about images,” said Gervais.

The symposium will be live-streamed on Ryecast.

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