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An archivist pulls a grey box labelled "Life" from a shelf
Fig. 1

Peter Higdon Research Centre, 2018 © Riley Snelling, Ryerson Image Centre

Announcing the 2019 RIC Fellows

Mar. 4, 2019

Each year, the Ryerson Image Centre offers fellowships for research related to photography. Research fellows have the opportunity to visit the Peter Higdon Research Centre to study specific areas of the RIC’s photography collections first-hand. Selected from a competitive open call, we are pleased to announce the recipients of this year's RIC Research Fellowships.


The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Marianne le Galliard
Marianne le Galliard is an independent art historian. Her work focuses on the history of photography and modern art, specifically fashion photography, magazines, and photographic albums. Her PhD thesis, titled “Lartigue in the Eyes of Avedon: The Issue of the Photographic Album with Diary of a Century (1970),” explores the relationship between French and American photographers Jacques Henri Lartigue and Richard Avedon. As the 2015–16 winner of the Louis Roederer Research Scholarship in Photography, she curated the exhibition Avedon’s France, Old World, New Look at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris (2016).

"The Side Pictures of the Black Star Collection" 

Studying the photographs in the well-known American magazine Harper's Bazaar between the 1930s and the 1970s, Marianne le Galliard came across a number of photographs attributed to Black Star. Very often these images, and the way they would appear, can be described as “unspecific,” “vague,” or at times even “puzzling.” This research project proposes to investigate the particular status of these pictures, which seem to stand aside from the categorized standards of photography, whether that is documentary, reportage, fashion, advertising, or portrait. The proposal derives from two main challenges: Would it be possible to isolate the pictures from the Ryerson Image Centre’s Black Star Collection that correspond to this grey area of the "side" category? Then, assuming a body of work can be assembled, how can we define these images which appear to be devoid of a determined subject? As a result, this study will offer an original look at the more “discrete” work that belongs to the Black Star Collection and could potentially open up discussions on the cataloguing and inventory of photographs that lack a definite subject as such.


The RIC Research Fellowship
Adam Lauder

Adam Lauder is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at York University in Toronto. He obtained a PhD from the Department of History of Art at the University of Toronto in 2016. His current research employs the non-aesthetics of François Laruelle to study Canadian information art in the 1970s—a time when artists began to explore new scientific frameworks and modalities of “fiction.”

“The Mechanical Bride in the Age of Photo(-mechanical) Journalism: Reconnecting McLuhan, Black Star and Life Magazine”

This research project sets out to uncover the impact that photojournalism, specifically that of the New York-based Black Star photo agency, had on media analyst Marshall McLuhan’s first monograph, The Mechanical Bride (1951). It will ask the question: To what extent were McLuhan’s influential claims about the impact of mass media in general, and the innovative forms that those claims took in The Mechanical Bride in particular, shaped by the visual strategies developed by Black Star photojournalists as packaged and disseminated by Life magazine? A secondary question will also be asked: How did the socio-political context documented by Life magazine at mid-century (changing gender roles, racial tensions, armed conflicts and the Cold War) shape these same claims? Current conversations about the impact of media—be they social media or predatory purveyors of “fake” news—lend renewed relevance to McLuhan’s commentaries on the entanglement of news and social attitudes, yet also demand that one scrutinize the sources and ideological contexts that originally informed them.


The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Jackson Davidow
Jackson Davidow is a doctoral candidate in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art program at MIT, where he is completing a dissertation titled “Viral Visions: Art, Epidemiology, and Spatial Practices in the Global AIDS Pandemic.” He is currently a Junior Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. His article “Art Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and American Modernism” appeared in the summer 2018 issue of American Art.

“Reframing Jo Spence: Phototherapy and Health Activism in 1980s London”

This project will use the Jo Spence Memorial Archive held at the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) to analyze the intersections of art, therapy, and health activism in 1980s London. Focusing on the concept of phototherapy, this project will dwell on three interconnected research concerns that collectively have the potential to reveal new elements of Spence’s life work. Firstly, the project will attempt to establish a stronger understanding of the networks of cultural production in which she operated. Secondly, it will strive to obtain a better sense of the ways in which phototherapy was engaged in local health politics, specifically the women’s health and AIDS activist movements. Rather than solely treating phototherapy as a method that emerged through the creative vision of Spence and Rosy Martin in 1983, this project will work to situate the practice within a complex local landscape of health activism and feminist critique of Western science, medicine, and psychology. Thirdly, this research will endeavour to elucidate the relationship between phototherapy and other arts-based therapeutic methods.


The Elaine Ling Fellowship
Carla-Jean Stokes
Carla-Jean Stokes has a Masters of History from Wilfrid Laurier University, as well as a Masters of Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University. Carla-Jean won the 2015 Photographic Historical Society of Canada thesis prize for her paper, “British Official First World War Photographs, 1916-1918: Arranging and Contextualizing a Collection of Prints at the Art Gallery of Ontario,” later published in Photographic Canadiana. She has also written for the Laurier Centre for Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Legion and Espirit de Corps magazine. 

"'Somewhere in France:' Contextualizing the Ryerson Image Centre’s Collection of Canadian First World War Photographs" 

This project involves examining the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC)’s collection of 120 Canadian official First World War photographs previously used by the New York Times and currently part of the Rudolph P. Bratty Family Collection held at the RIC. The photographs were produced by the Canadian War Records Office (CWRO) and distributed to newspapers internationally with the goal of raising Canada’s profile abroad. This research project aims to contextualize the photographs at an item level by providing further information on makers, dates, locations, and associated events. It will also involve identifying similar photographs in other Canadian collections in order to build relationships between photograph repositories and to assist in the better understanding of the RIC’s collection.  


Learn more about our research program.