Christoph Ribbat | 31.03.2018 – 30.05.2024

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.

Christoph Ribbat

Christoph Ribbat is Professor of American Studies at the University of Paderborn, Germany. Books include In the Restaurant: Society in Four Courses (2017) and Flickering Light: A History of Neon (2013). His essays on photography have appeared in exhibition catalogs, magazines, and artists’ books.