Still Searching…

From 2012 to 2023, the discursive blog format of Fotomuseum Winterthur subjected all aspects of photography and its role in visual culture to interdisciplinary scrutiny. The approximately 50 bloggers that contributed to Still Searching… discussed photographic media and forms within their complex technological, capitalist and ideological networks and negotiated some of the most pressing and relevant questions surrounding photography.

Blog series: Let Us Now Praise Damaged Photographs

Christoph Ribbat | 31.03.2018 – 19.04.2024
Let Us Now Praise Damaged Photographs

Photographs may touch us. More often, though, we touch them. And when we do, we damage them. Our fingers leave creases and stains on surfaces. Exposing pictures to the elements, we ruin their colors. Some of us add moustaches to portraits, some vampire teeth. Others carry likenesses in their wallets: damaging acts of love. Then again, the more traces of use we see on photographs, the more intense they seem. Each flaw we register as an addition to the stories told by the analog image itself. Yes, our toxic obsession with authenticity should also lead us to critique the crease craze. As this blog series by Christoph Ribbat proclaims, however, it is more important to praise the grandeur of the damaged photograph.

Ripping Up Mountains

Monday, 05.02.2018
<p>A kerosene monster is tearing up the skies. I’m on Austrian Airlines flight 232 from TXL to VIE and I see this town called Gmunden on Lake Traunsee, Salzkammergut, Austria. On Traunsee’s clear blue waters a white ferry floats, decorated with multicolored flags. I see a church on the far shore and those amazing mountains. A middle-aged man of privilege in seat 17 C, I am about to do enormous damage to beautiful Gmunden and gorgeous Traunsee. </p>

The Creased Portrait of a Lady

Monday, 19.02.2018
<p>Someone smiled decades ago and now she stops you in your tracks. Early in 1953 Sarah Jackson posed for a studio photographer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was 16 years old, a high school senior with six siblings. On Mississippi Street her family ran “Jackson Groceries.” Because Sarah worked so hard in the store, her father called her “Jim.” She was engaged to be married to a man named Wilbert Olinde.</p>

Waiting for the Train (and for the Holocaust Memorial Repair Crew)

Tuesday, 06.03.2018
<p>The damaged Holocaust memorial rises from the mud. This is Paderborn, Germany. Kasseler Tor, to be precise, a commuter train station minutes from downtown. I get off here on my way to work. There's a convent to the left and a halfway house to the right. The university's a brief walk up the hill. Paderborn is about the size of Bridgeport, Connecticut, or Bern, Switzerland, or Blackpool, England. But when you're waiting for an outbound train at Kasseler Tor (off-peak: one per hour; peak: two), the place appears desolate. If you choose to ignore the memorial.</p>

Not from Stone

Wednesday, 21.03.2018
<p>At first I just wanted to find out what it feels like to write on analog photographs. Not about/on. Actually <em>on</em>. On the prints themselves. For some of us that's routine. Say you're the 1994 Winter Olympics Gold Medal Winner in the Men's Normal Hill Ski Jump. You've probably been signing autograph cards with your photo on it for a while now. But we don't all enjoy that privilege. And it's a bit different, anyway, to actually take a pen to photographs of other human beings.</p>

La Rue des Lots of Greek Fast Food Places

Saturday, 31.03.2018
<p>From Brussels Central Station I walk down to Rue du Marché aux Fromages. I have a job to do. Let's say I'm about to begin a research project on food photography in the post-digital European city. Expected duration: one day. It has to start here and no place else because Rue du Marché aux Fromages really should be named Rue des Lots of Greek Fast Food Places. There's one gyros place and then another gyros place next door and then another gyros place next door.</p>