In the summer of 2016, Susan Dobson came across a slide library that was being de-accessioned due to the emergence of digital archives. She became interested in the labelling and classification of the slides in the collection, which had not been updated or maintained in a long time, as they highlighted changes to our political, cultural, social, and geographic awareness. The collection also revealed an emphasis on Western art historical content. For example, a single Western country was represented by more than fifty trays, while up to eight nonWestern countries shared a single tray. The photographs that Dobson subsequently made question the ability of any archive to fully do justice to its subject, especially over time.
The aging of the slides, as physical resource, is a poignant reminder of philosopher Roland Barthes’ melancholy musing on the photograph,in which he points out that the photograph, like a human being, has a limited life: “Like a living organism, it is born on the level of the sprouting silver grain, it flourishes a moment, then ages.… Attacked by light, by humidity, it fades, weakens, vanishes; there is nothing left to do but throw it away.”1
1 Barthes, R. (1981) Camera Lucida. Nueva York: Hill and Wang.
9th November 2017 to 25th January 2018
Biblioteca Municipal Central – TEA
Avda. San Sebastián, 10. Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Tel: 922 849 090
Horario: 24 h
Artist: Susan Dobson