paula roush,2016 Chaos of Memories: Surviving Archives and the Ruins of History According to the Found Photo Foundation
(...) like the artists’ studios analysed by Jenny Sjöholm (11) my studio can be seen as an experimental archive in itself, with all types of collected objects being taken out and incorporated into installations set-ups, silkscreen prints, photozines and other practices that translate the contents of the storage boxes into new patterns that further loose its connection to its original site of production. Thus, not surprisingly, it is frequently impossible to identify the provenance of the photographs on display in any of my installations.
A UCA Research funded programme and enquiry into the notion of the artist book. It composed of an international artist book and print event spread over two venues: the Herbert Read Gallery, UCA Canterbury, and The Brewery Tap Gallery, Folkestone. The exhibition (Unbound) featured five internationally acclaimed artists including paula roush/msdm.
Torn, Folded, Curled: Orphan Photographs Sourced From the Arab Image Foundation (Crafting an Archaeology of the Recent Past, One Photobookwork at a Time) is a reflection on the methodologies I developed during a residency at the Arab Image Foundation, a MENA—Middle East North Africa—photographic archive.
The focus is the investigation into different types of archival organisation used in public photographic archives and their translation into photobook structures. Working with orphan photographs that are “torn, folded, curled”— a term used at the Arab Image Foundation to categorise heavily damaged photographs that require special care in storage and preservation—meant developing specific strategies to account for themes of war and memory in photobook sequencing.
The essay uses five anchors of my practice-—organised around three photobooks sourced from the Arab Image Foundation photographic collections— to analyse ways in which photographic and book art practices integrate with and complement each other in the work with photographic archives.
1. The photographic collection: how to handle a large number of photographs, using the group/series/sequence formula; 2. The story-showing technique: a documentary approach to elevate orphan photographs from archival storage to lived experience; 3. The photo-text authorial position: how to combine photographs with text and typography for creative disruption of meaning; 4. The haptic mode: the sensorial and materiality identity of the book object that engages the reader’s sense of touch; 5. The book dummy: the handmade maquette used for project development and get the work seen by partners or a publisher.
Paper presented at The Archive: Visual Culture In The Middle East Symposium (Publishing as an Intellectual Design Platform: Lebanon) Lebanese American University, School of Architecture & Design Department of Art & Design symposium. Organised by Yasmine Nachabe Taan and Melissa Plourde Khoury. LAU Byblos campus, April 5, 2019
Chaos of Memories: Surviving Archives and the Ruins of History According to the Found Photo Foundation
“Chaos of Memories: Surviving Archives and the Ruins of History According to the Found Photo Foundation” is a reflective essay drawn out of existing artistic practice.
The focus is the Found Photo Foundation, an experimental archive of orphan photography that mobilises vernacular and queer feminist models of the archive to document (in) visible lives.
The essay uses two moments of situated practice—organised around two particular exhibition projects—to examine ways in which the theory and practice of archival art challenge each other through reflective practice.
These two different curatorial contexts provide a framework to survey the creative processes within the Found Photo Foundation and reflect the diversity of media and archival methodologies deployed in the work with orphan photography, including the use of provisional taxonomies and the foregrounding of participatory tools.
CHAPTER IN THE BOOK Order and Collapse: The Lives of Archives. Editors: Gunilla Knape, Louise Wolthers, Niclas Östlind 192 pp., Bi-lingual English and Swedish Published by: Photography at Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg/ Hasselblad Foundation and Art and Theory Publishing, 2016
PRESENTATION Order and Collapse Lives of Archives Conference, University of Gothenburg 2015
Torn, Folded, Curled is an archival publishing project developed during a residency at the Arab Image Foundation, a MENA—Middle East North Africa—photographic archive. It brings a new approach to my long-standing interest in orphan and vernacular photographic collections. During the residency at the Arab Image Foundation, I investigated different types of archival organisation in public photographic archives and their translation into book structures. Working with “torn, folded, curled” images— a working term used at the Arab Image Foundation to categorise heavily damaged photographs that require special care in storage and preservation— also meant developing specific strategies to account for themes of war and memory in photobook sequencing.
Scroll book Size when open: 24 x 94cm 7 Pages with different sizes: 24×30.5/ 24x61cm/ 24x92cm 10 photographs of the Bayroumi Collection Inkjet printing on Epson Matt Enhanced paper Cover in card stock with sticker Pages stitched with japanese stab binding and bound to a roll in an acrylic tube Photography & book design : paula roush Source: Arab Image Foundation/ Bayroumi Collection Hand-writing: Charbel Saad
Hand bound artist’s book with six-volume accordeon paper structures Accordeon structure: 30cm x 11cm (page size), expanding to 40-130cm depending on the volume Inkjet printed on Epson Enhanced 189 gsm paper Folded insert 29.7 x 42 cm laser printed on corona offset 120gsm Photographic source: Arab Image Foundation / EPS + Al-Yom Collections Editing and design: paula roush
Hand made artist’s book unbound paper structure in case folder 48 pages, 21Å~29 cm Monotone laser printing on coloured paper Favin Le Cirque 80gsm Photographs (of photographs) and design: paula roush Source: Arab Image Foundation / EPS collection Text: Elie-Pierre Sabbag, from the novel “L’Ombre d’Une Ville”
Hand bound artist’s book with folded paper structure 29,5 x 126cm colour inkjet print folded onto 6 pages accordion structure (29,5 x 21 cm closed) Epson 189 gsm paper and black boards (cover) Editing and design: paula roush Photographic source: Arab Image Foundation msdm publications, 2015-2020.
Torn, Folded, Curled was produced in the context of the research grant project “Torn, Folded, Curled: Sourcing from the Arab Image Foundation.” From June 22 to July 2 2015, I was in residence at the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut. This residency was supported by the Centre for Media Research (London South Bank University). The residency was primarily focused at sharing archival methodologies used by the Found Photo Foundation in its exhibitions and publications and exploring the potential of the Arab Image Foundation’s photographic collections as source for photobook publishing. Two of the Arab Image Foundation staff —Hala Tawil, archivist/librarian and Charbel Saad, collections manager— assisted me.
Photobook medium Established as an imprint of the msdm studio, “msdm publications” aim to create a small-scale model of photobook publishing, encompassing photographic practice and book art processes. Projects are guided by artistic research and investigation of the photobook medium. This allied to bespoke hand-made editions—in these days of automated print on demand— makes for a distinctive approach to photobook publishing.
Exhibition Curatorial projects include exhibitions, publications and performances exploring photobook art. ə/h/-books and photobook pop-up are two parallel programmes of exhibitions, artists’ talks and publications developed in collaboration with Photography and Photobook learning at the London South Bank University.
Education Represented in public artists’ books collections worldwide, msdm publications are accessed by a broader audience and used as educational resources for students and researchers of photobook art. A wide-range of presentations, from hands-on workshops to lectures about photobook publishing history and practices, hosted on msdm studio and at partner sites.
EIFE Escola Informal de Fotografia do Espectáculo / Imago Photo Festival Lisbon Masterclass
Social publishing Free/low-cost photobook making workshops support art and humanitarian organisations, working directly with their artists to document, exhibit and publish their photographic archives, including work placement opportunities for photography students.