For this dialogue, Sarah Sweeney and Paris Baillie ’17 selected panels from Joachim Schmid’s Archiv (1986–1999), a work consisting of 726 panels of found photographs, and responded to them by creating panels using photographs from Reimaging Erica (2017–2018), a digital archive constructed from images of a woman found in the Creative Commons of Flickr, manipulated in Photoshop, and reposted to Instagram. Below, they discuss what they found in these two archives, and how these images speak to one another.
What is photography for?
In both Reimaging Erica and Joachim Schmid’s Archiv, that’s the complicated part. Photography is supposed to capture and preserve, right? That’s what Kodak says, and that’s what other advertisements say, but at the same time, Schmid’s work comes from images that have been thrown away, and so those images have been divorced from their original function of preserving someone’s memories, and they’re now something else.
Originally, photographs were for memory, but now they’re not important in the same way.
They’ve been detached from memory, and that’s true of the Erica project as well. In Erica, we don’t have her memories. The images become a way to preserve a cultural memory rather than a specific person’s memory.
I immediately think of social media when I look at Joachim Schmid’s work. When I see images organized on pages in Schmid’s Archiv, it makes me think of people on Instagram posting photos of their food all the time or people posting the same vacation photos.
It underscores the idea that patterns exist everywhere. The way we’ve organized Erica allows us to see patterns in really stark ways. In June, she’s always going to a specific place. Why do we have so many images in front of the Christmas tree? Why is that a staple backdrop? Or, as you said, the new staple of taking photographs of what you eat.