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Imagining Everyday Life: Engagements with Vernacular Photography

  • Lenfest Center for the Arts 615 West 129th Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)
 Unidentified photographer, "The Girlfriends' Album," 1934 Courtesy The Walther Collection

Unidentified photographer, "The Girlfriends' Album," 1934
Courtesy The Walther Collection

The Center for the Study of Social Difference and the Barnard Center for Research on Women in collaboration with The Walther Collection presents: Imagining Everyday Life: Engagements with Vernacular Photography.

This event is open to the public, but registration is required. Please register here.

What is vernacular photography? Generally defined as the most ordinary or utilitarian form of imagery, vernacular photography ranges from early ethnographic records to family photo albums to today’s social media. The aim of this symposium is to reconsider the uses and meanings of these frequently overlooked photographic practices, ones that often reinforce conventions of social identity but can also become crucial sites of creative resistance and transformation. Speakers from a wide range of academic disciplines will consider vernacular representations of everyday life, offering new ways to think about photography in relation to our political communities, cultural identities, social agency, and daily personal rituals. 

The symposium coincides with The Walther Collection’s current exhibition series titled “Imagining Everyday Life,” which will culminate in a major installation curated by Brian Wallis at The Walther Collection in Neu-Ulm, Germany, in 2020.

Event is free and open to the public, but please register here.

Co-presented by:
School of the Arts | Columbia University

Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for Humanities | Columbia University

Department of Art History and Archaeology | Columbia University

Institute for Research in African-American Studies | Columbia University

Institute for African Studies | Columbia University

Andrew and Marina Lewin Family Foundation

Documentary Arts


The Walther Collection is an art foundation dedicated to the critical understanding of historical and contemporary photography and related media. Through a program of original research, in-depth collecting, scholarly publications, and extensive exhibitions, The Walther Collection aims to highlight the social uses of photography and to expand the history of the medium. At its three-building campus in Neu-Ulm, Germany, its Project Space in New York City, and with traveling installations worldwide, The Walther Collection presents thematic and monographic exhibitions drawn from its expansive holdings of modern and contemporary photography and media art from Africa, China, Japan, and Europe, nineteenth-century European and African photography, and vernacular lens-based imagery from across the globe. The collection’s exhibition program is complemented by public lectures and screenings, international scholarly symposia, and a critically acclaimed series of catalogues and monographs co-published by Steidl.

Full program here