The FOUND PHOTO FOUNDATION is an artist-led curatorial platform for the study and care of orphan photographs. There are multiple reasons these photographs became orphaned: they may have been abandoned following the death of their owners, they may have been stolen, or they may have simply ceased to be useful and thrown in the garbage, from where they may have been rescued and put back on the market.

Organised in informal collections, the photographs are used for study, workshops, publications and exhibitions. Creative research methods allow to unravel the diverse meanings of collecting, exhibiting and publishing orphan photography.


Newspaper work documenting publications sourced from the Found Photo Foundation.

36 pages
29 x 38 cm 
digital printed colour
newsprint 55 gsm
Essay by Tanja Verlak:
An attempt at exhausting an archive / Found Photo Foundation
msdm publications


Dear Aby Warburg: What can be done with images? Dealing with Photographic Material

Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen
Curated by Eva Schmidt

In the exhibition "Dear Aby Warburg: What can be done with images? Dealing with Photographic Material," the FOUND PHOTO FOUNDATION was exhibited as an experimental archive.
It explored the use of photographic collections in contemporary art, and its many transmutations since Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas (1924-1929). The homage to art-historian Aby Warburg (1866 - 1929) as precursor to current art archival practices is unpacked by the exhibition’s curator Eva Schmidt, in the accompanying research publication.
The montage of reproduced photographs from divergent sources, the use of variable, nonsystematic ordering parameters, and the extremely provisional display strategies are some of the Mnemosyne Atlas’ characteristics that reappear in contemporary works in the exhibition, and in the processes of photographic collection, accumulation and archiving used in the FOUND PHOTO FOUNDATION.

paula roush, found photo foundation: installation view at Dear Aby Warburg: What can be done with images? Dealing with Photographic Material, Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, 2012–2013

Paradigm Store

Howick Place, London
Curated by HS Projects

A materialisation of the FOUND PHOTO FOUNDATION. appeared in the installation The past persists in the present in the form of a dream (participatory architectures, archive, revolution) that was exhibited in London by HS Projects as part of Paradigm Store, a curatorial project reflecting on the haunting gap between 20th century modernist utopias and historical matrixes that have ripped apart modernist myths of progress. 
The past… in the form of a dream occupied that gap between the 1970s promises of radical participatory democracy and the contemporary reality of neo-liberal democracy in southern europe, featuring the Apeadeiro housing estate, one of the urban villages developed during the portuguese SAAL architecture programme, and now facing demolition.

Queer Paper Gardens

Museu da Eletricidade Lisbon
Curated by: Joao Pinharanda

Flora McCallica 
photographic installation photowork sourced from
the Found Photo Foundation.

paula roush: Flora Mccallica (photo-collages), Queer Pape gardens, Museu da Eletricidade. Lisbon


Order and Collapse: The Lives of Archives

This book presents the FOUND PHOTO FOUNDATION in the context of contemporary artistic and research-based approaches to existing archives, the act of collecting images, and creating new archives. Peer-reviewed, bi-lingual English and Swedish.

Dear Aby Warburg: What can be done with images? Dealing with Photographic Material

This book presents the FOUND PHOTO FOUNDATION with recent positions in contemporary art that deal with photographic material. Starting from the “Mnemosyne” picture atlas by the famous art historian Aby Warburg (1866-1929), the book and related exhibition unfolds a contemporary aesthetic of photographic constellations.

As archival artwork, in the medium of exhibitions and publications, the FOUNDATION investigates the archive as the site of an ongoing negotiation between the appropriation of photo-historical material and accumulative strategies of installation and publication. To date such research has produced several projects where strategies of photographic reproduction and distribution are scrutinised as particular modes of knowledge production that whilst engaged in the creation of archival art are far apart from the 19th century model of bureaucratic archive.

The collections are also a source for the ORPHAN Editions. Each Orphan edition explores a particular approach to publishing the printed material in the Found Photo Foundation collections.

Today, the Found Photo Foundation is located in the msdm house-studio-gallery and open to anyone who is interested, by arrangement. Please call or send an email to make an appointment.