Today photography is losing its former borders on the one hand, as it is dissolved in contemporary art but on the other hand, a photographic image, being a part of everyday communication in social networks, acquires a new grammar. At the same time a vast number of photographs which refer us to the past is becoming today accessible to everyone thanks to digital technologies, whereas the scale and the speed of spreading the images raise complicated tasks for the researcher. All the former and contemporary contexts urge us to assess the photographic medium over and over again theoretically, and to adopt this understanding of photography while working in museums, galleries and archives.

Aesthetic, philosophical, culture-historical discourses on photography are different but they have common features. In contemporary approaches to the research in photography the stress is shifted from the image itself to the problems of cultural vision: the context of the surroundings, the cultural norms and the social practices which determine the meaning of the photographs. The Conference “What do we talk about when we talk photography?” is timed to the first Exhibition of Stereo Photographs from the archive of Sergei Chelnokov (1869-1924) who was an amateur photographer. He took pictures at the turn of the century both of the everyday life of his family and of the historical events (from the Russian-Japanese War up to the Paris Exhibition of 1900).

This Exhibition which fosters understanding of the photography of the time “after” (after the history, after the photograph) permits in the first place to discuss various themes for constructing history (both history on large scale and history of everyday life), as well as themes of the specific status of the archive and of the erased borders between genres. This Exhibition is called upon to promote studying unknown collections and to study the specifics of the stereoscopic photographs referring to the issues of “new materiality” of photography. It also makes us take a diverse view of the photographs depending on the situation in which they are presented.

The aim of the Conference is to engage specialists working in different fields of research: philosophers, specialists in cultural studies, historians, anthropologists, sociologists as well as those who are involved in practical research: museum workers, curators, collectors, artists, photographers to the discussion of the current problems of photography.

Submitted proposals for presentation should address the following themes (but there is no limit to the list of the themes).

Theory of Photography

  • Photography and photographic: change of discourse in photography
  • Image and borders of representation
  • Photography as a document, as an artifact, as art: new meanings
  • “Staged” and “Documentary” in Photography

Photography and History

  • Creating of “Big history” and ”History of  Everyday Life”
  • Fragmentary character of the photograph and the construction of the narrative
  • Image and photography as instruments of historical vision
  • Work of a historian: time and memory in the photographic document
  • Power of image and image of power: politics and propaganda

Photography and Archives

  • Status and logic of the (photo) archive  
  • Trauma and memory: the forgotten and the subdued
  • Unknown collections: photography “ad marginem”
  • Vernacular photography in museums and in private collections
  • Travel Photography: from ethnographic collections to online-albums

Photography and Disaster

  • Chronicles and reporting: genre of presenting the disaster
  • War photography
  • Esthetics of violence and death in photography
  • Details of horror: photographic ‘reality “and “realism”
  • Traumatic experience – photography as evidence and as therapy

Photography and New Materiality 

  • Photography as (physical) object
  • (Non)materiality of image
  • “Amateur” photography in “high art”
  • Stereo photography: technical parameters and effects of image