Terra Foundation-supported Events

Seminar: “American Photography in the Global Context”

Laura Katzman, Terra Foundation Visiting Professor at Freie Universität Berlin and Professor of Art History at James Madison University, will present her paper “Mining the Archive: Photography, Modernity, and the Office of Information for Puerto Rico” during this session of the seminar series “Camera Memoria.”

Her research examines an important yet neglected chapter in the history of twentieth century documentary practice in the United States: a post-World War II photographic project set up by the Office of Information for Puerto Rico (OIPR), an island government agency led by progressive norteamericanos. OIPR photographers transported a New Deal idiom of recording social and economic conditions in American states to an impoverished US territory that had been a Spanish colony for 400 years before the US seizure of the island in the Spanish American War. Informed by the now legendary Farm Security Administration photographic project, the OIPR documented Puerto Rico’s monumental shift from an agricultural to an industrial economy at a watershed moment in its history, when the increasingly powerful Popular Democratic Party sought both political autonomy and economic safeguards from the United States. How the photographers created and disseminated a visual language that engaged the complexities of the island nation, including its colonial legacy in the context of US imperial ambition, and how they negotiated their shifting roles in a fraught political landscape, are issues central to Katzman’s investigation.

Stella Jungmann (Universität Zürich), recipient of a 2018 Terra Foundation Research Travel Grant to the United States, will also present her paper “Transferring an aesthetic experience: Robert H. Pruyn’s photographs of Edo, Japan, 1862” during this seminar.

“American Photography in the Global Context” will be held on the Campus Paris Diderot, Olympe de Gouges building, room 117. Event in English.