Photo Library

Together with Fotostiftung Schweiz, Fotomuseum Winterthur runs the photo library. The library covers the history of photography, documents contemporary works, offers theoretical publications for an in-depth examination of the medium of photography and research according to thematic focal points. The photo library is open to the public.

Photo Library

Fotobibliothek in der Passage

Paths in Flux: Images from the Diaspora

How are diasporic communities depicted in photography? What stories from the diaspora do photobooks tell? And how do images from the diaspora expand our view of society? The exhibition Paths in Flux: Images from the Diaspora focuses on photobooks that seek to use the medium of photography to capture and give visual expression to individual diasporic experiences and diasporic communities in Europe, North America and Asia.

The concept of the diaspora has gained increasing importance of late because it can be used to highlight the many different aspects of identity and illustrate its influence on today’s societies. ‘Diaspora’ refers to the scattering and dispersion of a group of people who share a cultural, religious or familial sense of belonging elsewhere. The exhibition provides an insight into the varied forms and formats used by photographers, artists and historians to engage with photographic images from diasporic communities while raising a number of different questions: What role do images from the diaspora play? How are diasporic communities depicted and how does this display the heterogeneous nature of the latter?

The exhibition provides intimate insights into Chinese diasporic communities in Singapore and Malaysia, which the photographer Wei Leng Tay portrays in her book Convergence, it makes the history of a neighbourhood of St. Louis, USA, visible by presenting the historical photographic material by Black communities and families collected for the project North Webster: A Photographic History of a Black Community or shows the work of the Swiss-Vietnamese artist Thi My Lien Nguyen, who is researching the migration history of her own family.

In the process of researching the exhibition, it became clear to us that, in the library system, searches for images and photobooks from diasporic communities are associated with othering. Using keywords like ‘home’, ‘community’, ‘exile’ and ‘migration’ to create categories and conduct searches runs the risk of artificially constructing ‘otherness’ and thus manifesting discriminatory stereotypes, clichés and prejudiced ways of thinking. These keywords raise questions about our understanding of what it means to belong to a particular culture. A variety of publications were chosen for the presentation, demonstrating that there can be no one answer to these questions.