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Previous Fellows

The back of a photograph with various markings, stamps, etc.
Fig. 1

A verso of a photograph from the Black Star Collection, Ryerson Image Centre

About

RIC Research Fellowships

For many years, the RIC has offered fellowships for research related to photography. Research fellows have the opportunity to study select areas of the RIC’s photography collections first-hand. These include the acclaimed Black Star Collection of photo-reportage, with over a quarter- million prints spanning the 20th century; historic and fine art photography collection; and several archives devoted to the life and work of a diverse group of photographers, including Werner Wol, Jo Spence, Wendy Snyder MacNeil and Berenice Abbott.

Previous Fellows

2017

The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Christian Joschke
Assistant Professor at the University Paris-Nanterre and lecturer at the University of Geneva.

During 2016–17, he is substitute professor at the University of Lausanne. He is currently working on a research project with the Centre Pompidou in Paris about social and documentary photography in the 1930's. He recently published Les yeux de la nation. Photographie amateur dans l'Allemagne de Guillaume II, Dijon, Les presses du réel, 2013 and La Guerre 14 – 18, Photopoche, 2014.

The transnational market of soviet images. 
Union-Foto and the US agencies in the 1930’s
How were the Soviet photographs sold in foreign countries during the interwar period? Who were the actors and institutions who organized the international market of these images? Though there has been much written about photography in the USSR, the history of the Soviet photo-agencies still needs to be explored. In a recent book, Jean-François Fayet pointed out the role of the Soviet unofficial diplomacy for the elaboration of the communist press in foreign countries, especially in Switzerland. As the Comintern was to financially help the communist press, the VOKS, led by Olga Kameneva, was important for logistical matters. This organization launched an international photo-agency, Russ-Foto, which became in 1931 Soyuz-Foto. These agencies did spread out their material to the communist illustrated press around the world. How where these photographs distributed in Western countries? Who were the partner agencies? This project aims at finding out how the commerce of Soviet photographs was organized in Western countries, especially in the US.

The Doina Popescu Fellowship
Victoria Gao
A doctoral candidate in the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, with a focus on twentieth-century American road photography.

She is currently writing a dissertation on the photographic and filmic work of Berenice Abbott, Robert Frank, and William Christenberry. She also has a strong interest in curatorial studies and has interned at several museums, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In 1954 Berenice Abbott took a tour of the east coast of the United States, driving along U.S. Route 1 from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida. Carefully focused, steadily crafted, and endeavoring to create a portrait of an American public in a time of transition, the photographs of her unpublished book proposal U.S. 1 reveal a sharply satirical critique of 1950s American society through the juxtapositions of smiling middle class families and colorful advertising slogans against racial segregation, commercial waste, struggling local economies, and gender inequality. This series was acquired as part of the Berenice Abbott Archive by the Ryerson Image Centre in 2015, and my project is to conduct a thorough study of the U.S. 1 series, which includes over 1,500 negatives, as primary research for a dissertation chapter. By examining the subjects Abbott chose, the color process she used, the commercial advertisements she saw, and the images she ultimately turned into prints, this project will better understand how Abbott’s photographs are contextualized within the road photography genre and contribute to the existing scholarship on her work as a whole. 

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Zoë Lepiano
A photographic researcher and archivist.

She holds a BFA in Photography from Concordia and a MA in Photographic Collections Management from Ryerson University. Her current research intersects the material history of photographic production, with a particular focus on the art practices of women at the turn of the 21st Century.

The Ryerson Image Centre’s Wendy Snyder MacNeil Archive contains over five thousand objects; preparatory work—mock-ups, test prints, maquettes—negatives and exhibition prints, personal ephemera and publications spanning MacNeil’s lengthy career. Biographies and Album Pages are the only sub-series within MacNeil’s archive with multiple types of objects housed together, organized by sitter. The Ryerson Image Centre database has multiple listings under these sitters’ names. Missing from the organization of these objects are the personal histories and connections between MacNeil and her subjects—the foundation for MacNeil’s practice and the subsequent platinum palladium prints that she is best known for. Adding this information to the database records that comprise the archival fonds, allows a clearer reading of MacNeil’s relationships and working process, and their interwoven nature.I intend to consult the holdings to gather links and information between the sous-fonds, connecting ephemera, audio recordings, negatives and preparatory work to MacNeil’s final prints.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship 
Joey Brooke Jakob
A PhD candidate in the joint graduate program in Communication and Culture at Ryerson University and York University. 

Joey Brooke Jakob has a background in various forms of media production, including filmmaking, photography, and radio. At present, she studies media: employing a combined sociohistorical and comparative approach, she negotiates the meanings of visual and rhetorical forms. Focusing on alleviating social inequalities, Joey believes we can think through, and then move toward, enacting improvements in our communities.

‘Better Than The Movies’: Representing Enmity, Victory, and Vicarious Emotion in War Photographs from the Black Star Collection
Civilians play a large role in the narratives that circulate alongside photojournalistic accounts of war. The Black Star Collection holds a photo taken by J.P. Charbonnier in 1945, featuring a gathered crowd that watches the execution of a French traitor. Charbonnier describes the photo: “People are laughing, waiting for revenge. This is going to be better than the movies”. His description is relevant, pointing toward viewers’ engagement, not as that of passive bystanders, but instead toward their active celebration of a brutal event. Using this and other historical photographs from the Collection, this project explains how regular people help to build supportive war narratives for their “side”, by participating in the acrimony toward “enemy Others”. By illustrating ‘vicarious emotion’, whereby the portrayal of successful combat is represented in images intended for popular circulation, civilians are active producers of cultural or shared memories: to be photographed emanating emotional support for the war effort is to partake in its victory, which culminates in the making of a photographic war trophy. 

2016

The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Dr. Nadya Bair
Historian of photojournalism, photography, and twentieth century art.

Dr. Nadya Bair's manuscript, The Decisive Network: Magnum Photos and Postwar Photojournalism,
examines how a network of photographers and photo editors transitioned out of World War II and
expanded the role of news photography between the late 1940s and early 1960s. She holds a
PhD in Art History and the Graduate Certificate in Visual Studies from the University of
Southern California (US) and was awarded the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion
Fellowship in 2015-2016.

The Black Star photographic agency participated in the supply and demand for images of the
Civil Rights movement in the US between the late 1950s and early 1970s. According to the
media critic Daniel Boorstin, this was the era of pseudo-news, in which events were organized
in order to be documented by the camera and then circulated via print and television
journalism. Boorstin focused on the media strategies of politicians and celebrities who blurred
the lines between journalism and public relations, but there was another equally media-savvy
group functioning within the US at this time: the leaders and activists of the Civil Rights
movement, who recognized that their activities would not make a difference unless they were
documented through photography and reported on by the press. The fight for Civil Rights was
therefore not merely documented by, but rather constituted through photographic images. Yet
the quantity of images circulating in America at this time, as well as the multiple sites for
their publication and display, make it necessary to study Civil Rights photography as a system
and to look beyond the singular images that appeared in print or the mainstream publications
that published them.

Approaching this subject from the perspective of Black Star as a picture
agency allows for such a systemic study. This project will first expand our understanding of
the RIC’s Black Star Collection by identifying the scope and content of its civil rights
coverage, and then trace select photographic essays into general and specialized publications
including but not limited to Life and Jet magazines. It will compare Black Star’s coverage to
picture stories produced by its competitor Magnum Photos and the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee (SNCC). By doing so, it will attempt to understand how Civil Rights
photography as a system and as a body of images was shaped by both insiders (i.e. activists)
and outsiders (Black Star and potentially Magnum) while demonstrating the power dynamics
between image producers. Who had the capacity to create and circulate high-profile images
and why? How did Civil Rights leaders relate to New York-based and local teams of photographers,
including at Black Star, or editorial boards at magazines and newspapers? And what kinds of stories
can we tell about the system of photojournalism and about Civil Rights based on the unpublished
photographs in RIC’s Black Star Collection?

The Doina Popescu Fellowship
Dr. Vincent Lavoie
Professor of Art History at the University du Québec à Montréal.

Dr. Vincent Lavoie's work addresses the history and contemporary forms of photographic
evidence. He is the author of L’instant-monument. Du fait divers à l’humanitaire (Dazibao,
2001); Photojournalismes. Revoir les canons de l’image de presse (Hazan, 2010); L’affaire
Capa. Le procès d’une icône (Éditions Textuels, 2017), and the editor of La preuve par
l’image (PUQ, 2017). He has contributed to books published by Routlegde, Bloomsbury, La
Lettre volée, McGill-Queen's University Press and MIT Press/Ryerson Image Centre Book
Series. Vincent Lavoie is the director of the scholarly journal Captures. Figures, théories et
pratiques de l’imaginaire.

Robert Cohen’s Courtroom Portraits and the Paparazzi Gaze
From the Dreyfus affair to the Klaus Barbie trial, from the Lindbergh kidnapping to the O. J.
Simpson trial, every major court case has provided illustrators and press photographers with
an opportunity to translate highlights into images. In fact, it would be hard to imagine a
judicial narrative without illustrations. Photographic portrayals of legal proceedings and
criminal trials are inscribed within an economics of the illustrated press, with its historic
figures, its embryonic historiography, and even its imposed aesthetics. This project is
intended to support the hypothesis that Robert Cohen’s courtroom portraits taken in the 1950s
and toe 1960s fell within the new rhetorical register of celebrity photography, thus propelling
his shots into the lucrative market of portrayals of stars. An examination of the circuits for
distribution of Cohen’s images and a comparative analysis of the visual schemes found in his
production, and that of paparazzi of the time, will enable verification of this hypothesis,
which postulates an intermingling of news photography, courtroom ritual, the portrait genre,
and image consumption.

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Catherine Lachowskyj
Graduate student in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management at Ryerson University.

Catherine Lachowskyj's research interests include colonial
imagery of Tibet, material culture, and vernacular photography. She is currently pursuing a
six-month residency in the photographs collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The Ryerson Image Centre’s Black Star Collection contains 136 photographs by the
American photographer Henry Wilhelm, who is primarily situated within the history of
photography as the world’s leading expert on colour photographic processes. Absent from this
legacy is Wilhelm’s time spent as a photojournalist, working both independently and for the
Black Star Agency to photograph anti-war demonstrations. By cross-referencing Wilhelm’s
prints in the RIC’s Black Star Collection with his personal negatives, the original sequencing
of depicted events will be determined and documented to provide insight into both Wilhelm’s
own history, as well as the Black Star’s role as an agent in its members’ image printing,
sorting and publishing. Further research will be done to determine where Wilhelm’s
photographs were published, and interviews with Wilhelm will also be conducted and
recorded.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship
Dr. Gabrielle Moser

Writer, curator, and lecturer at OCAD University.

Dr. Gabrielle Moser is writer and curator based in Toronto, Canada. She organizes exhibitions
and events about photography, spectatorship, and pedagogy, including Gallery TPW’s
monthly out-loud looking group No Looking After the Internet. As an independent curator,
she has organized exhibitions for Access Gallery, Gallery TPW, V-tape, and Xpace in
Toronto. Her writing appears in Artforum.com, Art in America, Canadian Art, Fillip, Journal
of Visual Culture, Photography and Culture and Prefix Photo, as well as numerous books and
exhibition catalogues. She holds a PhD in Art History and Visual Culture from York
University (CA) and is a lecturer at OCAD University (CA).

Picturing Citizenship in Black and White: Photography, race and print media in North
America, 1900–48
This project proposes to build a visual vocabulary of citizenship by analyzing how
photographers, subjects, and viewers used the camera to make claims for belonging in Canada
and the United States. In particular, this research project looks at the ways citizenship was
pictured as a transnational form of belonging that operated across borders, racial categories,
and beyond the frame of national laws. This project will be the first of its kind in examining
what citizenship looks like in the photographic record, focusing on the unique way that
citizenship took shape in Canada, emerging as a photographic subject long before it became a
legal one (Canada adopted the Citizenship Act in 1948). By conducting research in the
Ryerson Image Centre’s Black Star Collection, this research project will analyze moments in
the photographic archive where racialized subjects used transnational understandings of
citizenship to negotiate their status in a highly visible, and visualized, way. It takes as its case
study the use of photography in a series of African-Canadian- owned newspapers and
evaluates how these publications engaged in a visual dialogue with minority-owned
newspapers in the United States. This project plans to look at how images of citizenship
circulated across borders by turning to the press photographs produced for and distributed to
American audiences by the Black Star agency. By reading these photographic archives
against one another, the project analyzes how photography shaped demands for citizenship in
a period that saw the increased prevalence of camera technology alongside growing numbers
of minority-owned newspapers based in Chicago, New York, Vancouver, Toronto and
Halifax. This historical period is a generative one for thinking about how civic belonging
came to be visualized in both texts and photographs, before the Civil Rights era, and how
these everyday representations of citizenship responded to depictions of racial violence in the
mainstream press.

2015

The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Dr. Heather A. Diack

Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Miami.

Heather A. Diack is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Miami (US) where
she teaches Modern and Contemporary Art, Theory, and the History of Photography. Though
her teaching covers all aspects of art after 1945 and the legacies of the early avant-garde, Dr.
Diack’s research focuses on conceptual art in relation to photography. Diack received her
PhD from the University of Toronto (CA), and is a graduate of the art history program of
McGill University (CA) and the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of
American Art (US). Before joining the University of Miami faculty, Diack was a postdoctoral
fellow and lecturer in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University
of British Columbia (CA), and a lecturer at the University of Toronto, York University, and
NSCAD University (CA). Her scholarship has been supported by the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council of Canada, DAAD/ Goethe Institute, the National Endowment
for the Humanities, the Jackman Humanities Institute, and the Canadian Centre for
Architecture in Montreal, among others.

Although many scholars concur that photography became visible as the pre-eminent medium
of contemporary art in the late 1960s, there is as yet little consensus or in-depth study as to
how this came about, or what is at stake in this development. Moreover, visual and
meaningful correspondences between the photographs of conceptual artists and that of
contemporary photojournalists have yet to be critically interrogated. This project will consider
the role of photography in society at the height of the Vietnam War, identifying
manifestations of conflict and community in the archives and collections of the Ryerson
Image Centre, and putting these photographs into conversation with the work of conceptual
artists of the same period. This project will culminate in an examination of the specific social
and aesthetic contexts involved in the redefinition of art and photography in the United States
during this profoundly turbulent moment.

The Doina Popescu Fellowship
Dorothea Schöne

PhD Candidate at the University of Hamburg and a Berlin-based art historian and curator.

After receiving an MA in Art History and Political Science at the University of Leipzig (DE) in
2006, Dorothea Schöne was awarded a Fulbright Grant to pursue pre-doctoral research at the
University of California, Riverside (US). From 2006-2010 she was curatorial assistant at the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art and has been awarded grants from the German Academic Exchange
Program and the German Historical Institute in Washington D.C. In Spring 2014, Schöne started working
as the Chief Curator at Kunsthaus Dahlem.

Like no other magazine, Life has profoundly shaped the perception of West German
modernism through a number of articles and artist’s profiles both within Germany and the
Anglo-Saxon hemisphere. This project will explore two main collections: the Wermer Wolff
Archive and the Life magazine collection. Both will be studied for the purpose of proposing
an exhibition at the newly founded museum Kunsthaus Dahlem in Berlin, in collaboration
with the RIC. Werner Wolff’s documentary photographs of postwar Germany are little known
in Berlin, though he has inspired numerous contemporary artists. The proposed exhibition will
therefore be an intervention: by inviting journalism schools in Germany to address the
reporting of arts and culture and the canonization of art, it will provide a platform for
dialogue.

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Lisa Yarnell

Graduate student in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management at Ryerson University.

Lisa Yarnell holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Tufts University (US). Presently, she is a
second year Master’s student in the Film and Photography Preservation and Collections
Management program at Ryerson University (CA).

The Black Star Collection contains 550 photographs by the American photographer Bill
Burke (b. 1943) taken in the United States and abroad between 1970 and 1989. They are
presently, categorized into 148 Black Star subject headings. This project has two primary
goals: first it will establish dates for as many images as possible evaluating and possibly
updating assigned headings. Second, an interview will be arranged with Bill Burke in Boston,
Massachusetts to further understand his relationship with the Black Star Agency.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship
Rowan Lear
Artist, writer, and independent researcher based in Bristol, England. Instructor of photography history and theory at Ffotogallery, Chapter Arts, Cardiff.

Rowan Lear holds an MA from Swansea College of Art (UK) in Photography: Contemporary
Dialogues and a BA (Hons) in Photography and Film from Edinburgh Napier University
(UK). Lear also teaches photography history and theory at Ffotogallery, Chapter Arts,
Cardiff.

By conducting primary research in the Heritage Camera Collection in Ryerson
University’s Special Collections this project draws upon the phenomenological,
embodied and observational description of photographing in Vilém Flusser’s essay
The Gesture of Photographing (2011). Flusser describes the photographer’s gesture
as one of movement, manipulation and reflection, and likens it to that of the
philosopher. Recognizing that Flusser's analysis is based on a limited concept of a
physical camera, this project proposed to study the numerous variations in camera
design that have occurred throughout the short history of photography. Through close
scrutiny, careful handling and detailed phenomenological description of changes in
weight, texture, manoeuvrability, focal length, viewfinder design and shutter speed,
this project hopes to understand how these aspects affect the gesture of photographing.