From Model to Sitter

On Reclaiming Colonial Photography

Authors

  • Michelle Green Independent
  • Hans Maes University of Kent

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.58519/aesthinv.v6i2.16888

Keywords:

portraiture, colonial photography, portrait

Abstract

This paper focuses on historic anthropological photographs, meant to depict Indigenous individuals as generic models of colonial stereotypes, and examines their later reclamation as portraits.  Applying an intention-based account of portraiture, we discuss  the historical context and contemporary examples of the utilisation of these images in order to address several questions. What happens when the depicted persons in colonial imagery are treated and presented as sitters, rather than model specimens? Does this change the nature of the image? If a photograph was not originally intended as a portrait, can it come to function as such at a later stage?  Regardless of whether they fulfill all the requirements necessary for portraiture, these colonial photographs represent a vital resource for the reclamation of Indigenous cultural heritage. As such, this paper serves as an introductory discussion into the complex issues surrounding the recategorisation, repatriation, and restitution of colonial photographic archives.

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Published

2023-12-31

How to Cite

“From Model to Sitter: On Reclaiming Colonial Photography”. 2023. Aesthetic Investigations 6 (2): 158-73. https://doi.org/10.58519/aesthinv.v6i2.16888.