Themes and Aspects of Croatian Photography from the 19th Century until Today
Photography is directly related to the development of modern society, its culture, arts and science; it is understood as a turbulent field of events within which flow not only the visual content but meaning and knowledge (Lyotard: 1979). Only after WWII did photography become an artistic discipline equal to painting and sculpture. On the margins of artistic developments until recently, today it occupies one of the central places in contemporary artistic discourse, leading to the need for a new reading of its historical phases. Due to the phenomenological and other thought it inspired, by the mid-1960s there was, globally, intensive development of theory and critical thinking on it. Thanks to the development of theory and criticism, it became a discursive field and a significant force in the overall development of culture (Sekula: 1973) and society, encouraging critics and theorists to begin considering it outside the standard paradigms.
Despite its very early appearance only a decade after its invention, within the relatively traditional structure of Croatian art history, it never achieved equal status to other artistic media. In Croatia it has most frequently been considered within the humanities and arts, and mainly used as a technical tool to help with other kinds of research. Rare historiographic research in Croatia (Tonković: 1994, Matičević: 1997, Koščević: 2006) ensured an initial overview in the national context from the appearance of photography up till the 1990s, and highlighted the potential value of the materials. But its marginalised position in the national context led to a total disregard of the theory and criticism of photography, greatly at odds with the situation in Europe and the world.
If this problem is evident in the arts, it is still more acute in other fields, such as the technological and natural sciences. Photography is an essential “tool” in a whole range of scientific fields, and its ability to “bear witness” to the truth of a moment, as well as its visual content’s ability to elucidate certain phenomena, civilizational discoveries and others, has not yet been researched nor presented to the public in the national context. The contemporary understanding of photography requires networking, and a combination of analytic and interpretative approaches that consider it from various perspectives. It is precisely in the unambiguous lack of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research of Croatian photography at the level of international studies of this medium that we find the space and the need for our project, a key one for Croatian art history, and therefore closely connected with other disciplines in the humanities, as well in the natural and technological sciences.
Within the project, there are two research groups. One dealing with historical issues would like to shed some light on unknown facts about development of photography as technical and artistic discipline, its reception and treatment among experts and public. The second group dealing with theory, approaches the photography from specific positions juxtaposing knowledge, opinion, image and text while analysis photography. The discourses time and identity are used to observe notions such as archive, everyday life, the politics of representation and (non)institutional influence of the photographer as well as the role of photography considering the use and function in private and public sphere.
Sandra Križić Roban, Ph.D.
Ana Šverko, Ph.D., Institute of Art History – Cvito Fisković Centre, Split
Leonida Kovač, Ph.D., Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb
Tihana Rubić, Ph.D., Department for ethnology and cultural anthropology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb
Ana Šeparović, Ph.D., Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography, Zagreb
Hrvoje Gržina, Ph.D., Croatian State Archive, Zagreb
Stela Fatović-Ferenčić, Ph.D., The Division for the History of Medical Sciences, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb
Martin Kuhar, Ph.D., The Division for the History of Medical Sciences, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb
Irena Šimić, Institute of Art History, Zagreb
Lina Šojat, Institute of Art History, Zagreb
Paolo Mofardin, Institute of Art History, Zagreb
Ante Orlović, Ph.D. candidate, Postgraduate doctoral study, University of Zadar
Project duration: 1. 2. 2020.–31. 1. 2024.
The project is funded by the Croatian Science Foundation and managed under the No. IP-2019-04-1772.
Project logo designed by Maja Subotić.