Free exhibition tours at 1:30 pm, Wednesday–Friday. Stay in the loop via our email list.

Skip Navigation
Created with Fabric.js 3.6.3


The back of a photograph with various markings, stamps, etc.
Fig. 1

A verso of a photograph from the Black Star Collection, The Image Centre


The Image Centre Research Fellowships

For many years, The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) has offered fellowships for research related to photography. Research fellows have the opportunity to study select areas of The Image Centre's photography collections first-hand. These include the acclaimed Black Star Collection of photo-reportage, with over a quarter-million prints spanning the 20th century; a historic and fine art photography collection; and several archives devoted to the life and work of a diverse group of photographers, including Werner Wolff, Jo Spence, Wendy Snyder MacNeil and Berenice Abbott.



The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Jennifer Orpana

Jennifer Orpana is a photography historian and lecturer, with experience teaching topics in photography and museum studies at Toronto Metropolitan University, University of Toronto, OCAD University, Western University, and Brock University. She has worked on education, community outreach, development, and curatorial teams at some of Canada’s leading arts and culture institutions, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Ballet of Canada, and the Royal Ontario Museum. Her writing has been published in RACAR, Fuse Magazine, and Trans Asia Photography, and she coedited a Photography & Culture special issue on family photography with Sarah Parsons (2017). 

Examining the Proof: The Retouching Practices of Violet Keene Perinchief

This project explores a box of negatives, proofs, handwritten notes, and envelopes from Violet Keene Perinchief’s Oakville studio, spanning from the late 1940s to the 1970s. Produced in the later years of Keene’s professional career, this part of the collection is highly instructive of several key aspects of her portrait studio practice. These documents are complex sites that reflect the personal desires of sitters, reveal the mainstream expectations related to female subjects and idealized feminine bodies, and illustrate how these ideals were further negotiated and articulated in post-production. The notes found on the envelopes and the messages tucked within them reveal the interactions between photographer and clientele, as well as information about order details and prices. On several envelopes, Keene’s handwriting captures her business practice, by indicating when follow-ups are needed, who to contact in the household, and which images could be used as samples. Additionally, many of the proofs, particularly of female subjects, have been marked in pen by the photographer to identify areas in need of retouching. These markings reveal suggested edits such as the cropping of hair styles, the flattening of wrinkles in clothing, the highlights needed on jewelry, or alterations to the subject’s body. The contents of this box reveal social and technical aspects of Keene’s practice in ways that help us to look beyond the visual codes in the final portraits and to see key moments that led to their production.

The Singer Family Doctoral Fellowship
Lucy MacKenzie Howie

Lucy MacKenzie Howie is a SGSAH/AHRC PhD researcher at the University of St Andrews where her thesis focuses on lens-based media from the 1980s–1990s Britain exploring the representation of sexuality and health. She has worked as a Curatorial Assistant at Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge, and writes regularly for the international art press. Lucy has programmed public events and film screenings at Kettle's Yard (UK), Cambridge Central Library (UK), Edinburgh College of Art (UK) and the University of St Andrews (UK) on projects spanning feminist collections, community art and aesthetics, and HIV/AIDS and disability.

Disability, Sexuality and the Politics of Representation: A Reconsideration of Jo Spence's Photo Therapy in 1980s Britain 

This project will use the Jo Spence Memorial Archive housed at The Image Centre to analyse the intersecting but often overlooked histories of disability, sexuality, and the politics of representation in photography in 1980s Britain. This will be explored through Jo Spence’s ‘photo therapy’ practice that formed a part of Spence’s critique of Western orthodox medicine and traditional therapies, bringing sexuality, class, and gender to the forefront of discussions on health. This research locates where Spence and her cultural network transformed debates in documentary photography and self-imaging practices to new ends in the context of disability rights activism and in response to Section 28 during this period. Photo therapy will be examined as a radical self-imaging technique that deconstructed pervasive categories of photography like the family album and commercial studio portraiture, which are inextricable from constructions of heteronormativity and ideals of the healthy body.

The Penny Rubinoff Fellowship
Isabelle Lynch

Isabelle Lynch is a PhD candidate in History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania where she studies modern and contemporary art with a focus on photography and film from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Her dissertation investigates how the use of artificial light in processes of photographic exposure and development altered photography’s relationship to time, space, and the image. She has held positions in curatorial and education departments at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, and the National Gallery of Canada. She currently lives between Chicago and Paris, where she teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and at Paris College of Art. 

Artificial Light: Photography and Alternative Illumination c. 1860–1910

My project interrogates how photography by artificial light sought to recast the limits of the visible world from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century. While histories and theories of photography tend to take the sun’s light as a given—a freely available natural resource that illuminates everything equally everywhere—my dissertation argues that the discovery, invention, and extraction of new materials and technologies of illumination such as limelight, magnesium light, and electricity signaled an important shift from photography’s reliance on the light of the sun to photography’s engagement with materials dislodged from the earth’s crust or made by human hands as alternative sources of illumination. My project’s central premise is that the development and use of artificial light to expand the perimeters of human vision was enmeshed with greater ambitions to conquer time and space and manipulate the limits of what can be known.

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Elaine Jones

Elaine Jones (she/her) is a graduate student in the Photography Preservation and Collections Management program at Toronto Metropolitan University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History, with a Minor in Curatorial Studies from TMU and a Masters in History from the University of Waterloo.

The Civil Rights Movement Through T-Shirts

For decades, printed T-shirts have been used as a means to convey messaging from the wearer to the world. In 2021, I published Politics Through T-Shirts: A History of Protest, an exploration of the origins of the T-shirt and its adoption by American protest movements. The online exhibition is free to view at Through this fellowship at The Image Centre, I will continue my previous work applying the lens to the Civil Rights Movement. By utilizing the Black Star Collection, I intend to examine the importance placed on the use of the printed T-shirt by Civil Rights activists as a means of furthering the message of equal rights.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship
María del Carmen Barrios Giordano

María del Carmen Barrios Giordano is a graduate student at the UNAM (the National Autonomous University of Mexico) in art history. She has a special interest in the history of photography across the Americas. Giordano received a bachelor's degree from Stanford University where she studied history of science and international relations, and then went on to lead a dilettantish existence between museum education, publishing, and sewing. 

Victor de Palma in Mexico: Fotoprensa and Black Star 

Victor de Palma was an American photojournalist who in the late 1940s and 1950s called Mexico City home. During his time in Mexico, De Palma set up TV and radio stations, ran a photo lab and studio, mentored youth, and sparked the career of perhaps the most revered Mexican photojournalist of the 20th-century: Nacho López. Regrettably, his influence on the history of photography in Mexico is lost; he is neither mentioned nor cited in any scholarly research about Mexican photography, his name is unheard of among photography specialists, and his work has never been exhibited in the country. "Victor de Palma in Mexico" fills this gap, exploring how this expat photojournalist in the 1940s and 50s fit into the vibrant world of mid-century Mexican fotoprensa (photo press).

The Wendy Snyder MacNeil Research Fellowship
Clare Samuel

Clare Samuel is a visual artist originally from Northern Ireland, now living as a settler in Tkaronto. She holds a BFA from Toronto Metropolitan University and an MFA from Concordia University. Her work focuses on connection and distances between the self and other, as well as notions of social division, borders, and belonging. Spanning mediums such as photography, video, text and installation, her projects are often a dialogue with the idea of portraiture. She has exhibited internationally, most recently at OBORO, Belfast Exposed and VU Photo. She teaches at OCADU, Toronto Metropolitan University, and University of Toronto. Her practice has been supported by Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council. Clare is co-founder and co-director of Feminist Photography Network, a nexus for research on the relationship between feminism and lens-based media.  

An Artistic Dialogue with Wendy Snyder MacNeil 

My intention is to have an in-depth dialogue with Wendy Snyder MacNeil's work in expanded forms of portraiture. As a mid-career and middle-aged artist whose focus has been the representations of individuals and groups, I’m entering a period of reflection and change in my practice. This conversation with the archive, the life and legacy, of a pioneering female artist with similar concerns will inform and re-energize my own work. As an arts writer, curator and Co-Director of Feminist Photography Network, I will also be considering ways to bring MacNeil’s work more into the public consciousness. Like many woman photographers, her contribution to the histories of photography is deeply underrepresented.


The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship 
Jonathan L. Dentler

Jonathan Dentler is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Paris associated with the Early Conflict Photography and Visual AI project (EyCon) and the Laboratoire d’Excellence “Les passés dans le présent.” He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Southern California, where he also earned a graduate certificate in Visual Studies. His primary research interest is in the history of telecommunications media, the press, and visual culture, set in a transnational perspective. His dissertation, defended in 2020, is a global history of wire photography services. His next project will explore how artists, archaeologists, ethnographers, and the press theorized and imagined a prehistoric cultural diffusion around the Atlantic basin from the legendary continent of Atlantis, helping them make sense of deepening transoceanic connections from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries.

The Wired Image: Phototelegraphy, News Agencies, and the Reinvention of the World Picture, 1917–1955

Building on efforts in photography studies to write the medium into the history of communications media, my forthcoming book (based on a dissertation defended in 2020) will show how wire photography services combined photojournalism and telecommunications to reshape the everyday experience of global events. The book begins with the first consistent use of wire photography by the press in the 1920s and follows its development through the 1950s, when it had spread globally and looking at wirephotos had become an everyday practice for millions. At The Image Centre, I want to use the collections to compare and contrast faster wire photography services with slower and sharper picture agencies that primarily worked for illustrated magazines such as Life. I will contrast the circulation networks of picture agencies that primarily served weekly illustrated magazines with those of wire photography services, analyzing how different kinds of circulation were mediated by formal and material aspects of the photographs themselves.

I am also at work on a smaller project on Life magazine’s position in an intermedial cultural field during the 1930s that will use the Image Centre’s related collections. The project’s point of departure is the way in which “Ferdinand the Bull” was represented across a host of media in the late 1930s, including, notably, illustrated magazines like Life. Ferdinand, I argue, demonstrates the intensifying links between burgeoning media conglomerates such as Time-Life, Disney, and the Radio Corporation of America, and helps us look at the illustrated press in new ways, underlining its intermedial relations.

The Singer Family Doctoral Fellowship
Alexandra Symons-Sutcliffe

Alexandra Symons-Sutcliffe is an art historian who writes and curates. She is currently a PhD candidate at Birkbeck University, London where she is completing a dissertation on British documentary photography from the 1970s and 1980s. She writes regularly for the international art press and has organised and contributed to exhibitions and events programmes at organisations including Halle für Kunst Lüneburg (DE), Four Corners (UK), MayDay Rooms (UK), Gallery 44 (CA), Cabinet Magazine (DE), The Kitchen (US) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (US).

Terry Dennett: Subject to History

Dennett’s lifetime maps onto a significant period in British political history. He experienced the machinations of the post-’68 Left’s move from workerist and class-based analysis, through communitarian engagement, towards an identity-lead political outlook. Concurrently, the end of post-Second World War growth and the rise of Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal government fundamentally changed the material conditions of working people’s lives, and the landscape in which he was able to produce and distribute political photography. Dennett was affected by and responded to these changes, though not always moving with the tide in the manner available to some of his peers. It is this asynchronicity as well as his own commitment to historical work which marks Dennett’s biography as a vector through which to understand the stakes and consequences of British documentary practices in the latter half of the twentieth century.

The Penny Rubinoff Fellowship
Rowan Red Sky

Rowan Red Sky (member of Oneida Nation of the Thames) graduated with an advanced degree in Fine Art from Fanshawe College in 2010, where she studied a breadth of media but took a focus on digital photographic imagery. The same year, she completed a certificate in Photo Arts at Haliburton School of The Arts at Fleming College, where she specialized in historical and experimental cameras and chemical darkroom processes. She earned her BFA at OCAD University in 2015 where she studied Cross-disciplinary Art with a specialization in Publications, and then went on to practice as an artist based in Toronto for the next five years. In 2021 she graduated from her SSHRC-funded MA program and is currently continuing with her SSHRC-funded PhD at University of Toronto, where she studies Art History with a collaborative specialization in Book History and Print Culture.

A Woman’s Pictorial Frontier: Photographic Strategies of Minna Keene’s Travels through Western Canada, 1914-1915

Photographic images made by Minna Keene during her travels through Western Canada in 1914-1915 are part of a broader group of nation-building images about Canada that advance the political, economic, and social imperatives of settler-colonial Europeans. My study of this collection opens questions about how the westward expansion of the Canadian frontier demanded new, yet familiar, forms of visual representation. This research project will analyse how Keene’s pictorial images of North American landscapes and the Indigenous ‘other’ compare with the synthetic ‘realism’ of early engravers, the portraits and landscapes made by nineteenth-century painters, and the masculine pictorialism of early-twentieth-century ethnographic photography. The collection offers insight into how photographic media was used by women during travel at a time of intense colonial expansion. A material exploration of the archive introduces potential for new understandings of these photographs by looking beyond the surface and borders of the image. The size and large scope of the collection, variant prints, original negatives, scrapbooks, and published reproductions in The Image Centre’s collection provide a resource for thinking through questions about Keene’s motivations and working methods. Another issue to investigate in this collection is what can be learned about the Indigenous subjects in Keene’s photographs, and what information might be available in the collection that would help to understand their lives at the ‘moment of capture’. Keene’s collection is point of focus to think about colonial representations of land and Indigenous bodies, and the transformation of land into material culture and nation-building narratives.

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Nicole Cartier Barrera

Nicole Cartier Barrera is a Toronto-based researcher, writer, and curator from Bogotá, Colombia. Her interests involve contemporary visual culture in Latin America and the consolidation and circulation of narratives of resistance, emerging in themes of witnessing, spectatorship, digital journalism, forensic media, and surveillance. Exploring collective memory and post-conflict reconstruction, she investigates the ethical position of the spectators of violence inflicted on others.

Nicole holds a double BA in Visual Art and Art History from Los Andes University (2018), and a graduate degree in Curatorial Studies from the University of Toronto (2022). She is the recipient of the Reesa Greenberg Award for Curatorial Studies, the Benjamin Hart Lobko Memorial Travel Award, the Latin American Studies Engagement Award, the Canada Graduate Scholarship (SSHRC), among others. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and books. She is part of the interdisciplinary research-creation group Hemispheric Encounters Network and a board member of artist-run centres Art Metropole and Pleasure Dome in Toronto.

Thresholds of Liberty and Democracy

On February 27, 1980, the guerrilla group M-19 (Movimiento 19 de abril) crashed a cocktail party at the embassy of the Dominican Republic in Bogotá, Colombia and, by means of force, sieged the building. The occupation lasted 61 days, during which 18 people, including 15 ambassadors, remained hostages inside the small house, while the negotiations with the government took place. An emcampment of journalists established itself next to the military convoy enclosing the house, and for weeks, they observed patiently. The Black Star Collection contains a series of photographs resulting from those months.

Instead of insisting on the situations developing inside of the embassy, or outside of it, my research looks directly into the building’s architectural structure and explores how it becomes a threshold for the encounter of both groups: on one side, the State, the military, the public; on the other, the guerrilla members and the hostages. The divisions that are usually delineated by a house—the private and the public, the intimate and the social spheres—are disrupted by the exceptionality of the siege, the nature itself of the building—which was a regular house that had been adapted for diplomatic use— and the constant presence of media and members of the public.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship
Harmony Trowbridge

Harmony Trowbridge is a multi-disciplinary artist working in Toronto, ON. She holds a Bachelor’s in Drama from The Dan School at Queen’s University, and is about to complete her MFA in Documentary Media at TMU’s Image Centre. In 2023/24 she will embark on her second Master’s degree when she joins the cohort in the FPPCM program (MA). Harmony is honoured to have received the Elaine Ling Fellowship and wishes to express her appreciation to Charlene Heath, Katy McCormick, Blake Fitzpatrick, Kai Trowbridge-Wolters and the Peter Higdon Research Centre at The Image Centre for supporting her passion for The Black Star Collection.

The Valley of Ashes: Rising Tide

Multidisciplinary artist Harmony Trowbridge presents her debut art installation as a part of the Doc Now Documentary Media Festival, hosted by Toronto Metropolitan University’s Doc Media MFA program. This multi-media piece will expose the dark side (and the aesthetic and rhetorical resistance it faced) of the 1939 World’s Fair in NYC by juxtaposing archival materials from some of NA’s most prestigious collections with her own photography from the site.

The Wendy Snyder MacNeil Research Fellowship
Stephen Broomer

Dr. Stephen Broomer is a media artist and film historian. He teaches at the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, and is the host of the video essay series Art & Trash, on cult and underground cinema. He has been a Fulbright visiting scholar at the University of California Santa Cruz and the Prelinger Library, has held a postdoctoral fellowship at Brock University's Centre for Canadian Studies, and is a past recipient of the Chalmers Art Fellowship. As a media artist, he has been the subject of retrospectives at the Canadian Film Institute and Anthology Film Archives. His books include Hamilton Babylon: A History of the McMaster Film Board, Codes for North: Foundations of the Canadian Avant-Garde Film, Moments of Perception: The Canadian Experimental Film, Imprints: The Films of Louise Bourque, and Exovede in the Darkroom: The Films of Rhayne Vermette.

Wendy Snyder MacNeil: Extended Portraiture

Complex forms of critical theory emerged in the 20th century, and with their arrival, painterly traditions in portraiture became limiting and reductive. In order to bring portraiture into the modern era of complex representations, fuller views of the subject would have to come into being: views that penetrated beyond typology, that expanded beyond the criteria traditionally conveyed in portraits (class, age, gender), that reached the core of their subjects by integrating content beyond visual perception, such as biographical elements, into the image itself, transforming the image from an instant into an interval. For American photographer and filmmaker Wendy MacNeil, such questions of portraiture and its potential narrative extensions led to a body of photographic portraits that appropriate past images – images taken from other contexts, such as passports, employment IDs, and family albums – and integrate them with contemporary portraits taken by the artist. These contrasts of past and present convey information about the subject uncommon in traditional portraiture. In making them, MacNeil reflects on the history and nature of portraiture.


The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Dr. Audrey Sands

Audrey Sands is a photography curator and historian. She holds a PhD in the history of art from Yale University where she completed a dissertation on the photographer Lisette Model. From 2019 to 2022, she was the Norton Family Assistant Curator of Photography at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) in Tucson, Arizona, a joint appointment with the Phoenix Art Museum, where her exhibitions included a major retrospective of social documentarian Marion Palfi and a survey of postwar Japanese photography. She has held positions in curatorial departments at numerous museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and the J. Paul Getty Museum. Sands has received numerous fellowships, grants, and awards, including the Henry Luce/ACLS Fellowship in American Art, the Canadian Photography Institute Fellowship, the Tyson Scholarship from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Joan and Stanford Alexander Award presented by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Predoctoral Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). She currently holds a Curatorial Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

"FLASH! The Shape of Light: History, Ethics, and Aesthetics of Flash Photography"

FLASH! The Shape of Light: History, Ethics, and Aesthetics of Flash Photography examines over 150 years of global visual output from across a range of disparate fields deploying flash light in photography, from the earliest experiments with the medium through the present day, to consider the history, ethics, and aesthetics of this understudied but ubiquitous visual technique. Throughout photography’s history, practitioners have experimented with means of creating portable, instantaneous sources of illumination in order to capture spaces, scenes, and movements that might otherwise remain invisible. Liberating the camera from the constraints and vicissitudes of natural light, flash technologies produce a unique set of aesthetics entirely distinct from that of available-light photography. Flash and strobe illumination have advanced the quest for evidentiary truth, revelation, and the transcendence of embodied vision. These motivating factors have driven nearly two centuries of technological innovation, expanding the frontiers of our knowledge and inspiring artistic expression. Today these technologies are folded into all areas of photography, without second thought, by everyone from professional image-makers to casual camera-phone users. Through extensive archival research, conversations with artists and researchers, a scholarly colloquium, and ultimately a traveling exhibition, this multi-year project sets out to explore the work of photographers who have used flash as a defining practice.

The Singer Family Doctoral Fellowship
Maura McCreight

Maura McCreight is a PhD candidate in art history at The Graduate Center, CUNY, with a focus on the history of photography and art of the Middle East and North Africa. She holds an MA and an advanced graduate certificate in philosophy and the arts from Stony Brook University. Her dissertation retraces photographs of women during the Algerian War for Independence (1954–1962) using methods that demonstrate the conflict’s scattered visual archival existence. She is a lecturer in the art departments of Brooklyn College and Bronx Community College and has taught at the New York Institute of Technology. She is a member of the Photography Network and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS). Her essay and curatorial project on movement between North Africa and Europe was published in Life Goes On: New Media Art 2022 by CICA Press.

“Black Star and the Algerian War for Independence (1954–1962)” 

This research examines photojournalism and reportage of the Algerian War for Independence (1954–1962) in the Black Star Collection. Rarely does research of the Algerian War observe how the language of photography and visual representations of women influence the perception of the war, both on the ground in Algeria and to a global audience. This study treats images of women in diverse roles, pictured by Black Star photographers Dominique Berretty and Charles Bonnay, as direct objects of the conflict’s history. Algerian and European women played a pivotal role in challenging colonial control as combatants of the Front de libération nationale (FLN), nurses, educators, community organizers, photographers, and journalists. On the other hand, women of the same ethnic identity steadfastly promoted a French Algeria, while others fell somewhere in between. Berretty’s freelance work for Paris Match and Life magazines during the Algerian War includes photographs in a range of everyday environments circumstantial to colonialism and decolonial struggle, such as women wearing haïks (white veiled garments that cover the entire body) carrying shopping bags next to surveilling French army officers, and riots in the streets with veiled and unveiled women waving handmade Algerian flags. Bonnay’s coverage of the far-right Organisation Armée Secrète (OAS) for Time and Life presents images of women on both sides of the conflict, and his photographs of Berber (Amazigh) women trekking through their homelands offer a less commonly circulated wartime representation. By retracing these photographs of women from the Black Star Collection, this project aims to understand how Berretty and Bonnay’s work speaks to the image environments of the 1950s and ‘60s, and the ways circulation, reportage, and representations of gender steered the Algerian War and, by extension, its broader visual history.

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Juan Andrés Bello

Juan Andrés Bello is a documentary researcher and producer who explores the use of visual and textual archival materials for storytelling purposes. Over the last two decades, his practice has included subjects such as architecture, history, cultural heritage, and human rights. His portfolio includes independent films, projects commissioned by TV networks, and digital resources and exhibitions for museums and cultural institutions. His work has been exhibited at specialized film festivals, including the Festival International du Film sur L´Art (FIFA) in Montreal. Villanueva, The Devil, his documentary about the Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was included in the exhibition A Tale of Two Worlds, at the Museum Für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Buenos Aires. His latest project, The Chalatenango Massacres, documents the crimes committed by the Salvadoran army and paramilitary groups against peasant communities at the outset of the country’s Civil War (1980–1992), and was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the London Arts Council. He is also a lecturer in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario. 

“The Salvadoran Civil War (1980–1992) in the Black Star Collection”  

This project will explore the coverage of the Salvadoran Civil War (1980–1992) in the Black Star Collection, searching for photographic evidence of key historical events, the armed conflict, forced migration, and human rights violations. At the time, war photographers played an essential role in raising international awareness of the confrontation in Central America, and in some cases their images constitute the only material evidence of the atrocities that were perpetrated. This investigation aims to place these photographs into a narrative by using the existing metadata, academic sources, interviews with the photographers, and in consultation with community historians in El Salvador. The final goal is to develop a strategy with organizations in Canada and El Salvador to present these images to the Salvadoran diaspora and the communities where they were produced. Doing this creates an opportunity for retrieving and preserving memories in connection with these historical events, in an effort to prevent something similar from happening again.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship
Joseph Walsh Milette

Joseph Walsh Milette is interested in visual and textual documentary media as they relate to travel, journey, walking, and exploration. Milette first entered art history and criticism through his own art practice, having completed a BFA at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He is currently an MA candidate in art history and archaeology at Columbia University, New York, where he studies late nineteenth and early twentieth century photography and painting and their intermedial interactions in greater East Asia. Milette returned to the US, his home country, in 2020 after obtaining an MA in Chinese history as a Yenching Fellow and Chinese Government Scholar at Peking University, Beijing, China. His work there traced the photographic journaling and surveying of archaeologist-explorer Sir Marc Aurel Stein in early-twentieth-century Kashmir, British India and Xinjiang, China. He is a practicing photographer, writer, and collage artist.

“Creating Space: Elaine Ling in Mongolia, on the Steppe and in the Yurt”

Photographer Elaine Ling (Canadian, born China, 1946–2016) traveled to Mongolia five separate times between 2002 and 2008. The images she created there of the windblown steppe, the Gobi Desert, and of other travelers, too—nomadic families and herdsmen—encapsulate the great vastness of southern Mongolia’s sparse natural landscape. This project explores exactly that: the wild emptiness and openness of geographic space captured on film. What are the correlations between, on the one hand, real space sensed and perceived out in the world, and, on the other, negative space deployed by the photographer in a carefully chosen, framed, and crafted image? How does geographic space transform into aesthetic space? And what are the ways in which a photographer works with space to achieve aesthetic interest or affect? How do the geographic and poetic imaginaries interact? The relationship between photographer and environment takes center stage as this project aims to unravel the myriad ways in which we interact with, perceive, and then represent physical, geographic space in landscape photography.


The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Dr. Audrey Leblanc

Audrey Leblanc is a Ph.D. historian, specialized in the history of photography. She graduated at the EHESS (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), and collaborates there since 2016 as an associate researcher. So far she curated two exhibitions: "Icons of May 68: Images have a history" at the National Library of France (BnF) where she also edited its catalog (2018) and is currently curating an exhibition about the independent press photographer Elie Kagan (La contemporaine, Nanterre University). She teaches history and visual culture (University of Lille, Paris 2 French Institute of Press) and led the seminar "Photography, publishing, press: a cultural history of image producers" (EHESS, 2018-2019). Three times research fellow awarded by the BnF (2016-2017), by the Institut Pour la Photographie (2019) and by the National Audiovisual Institute (INA, 2020): Audrey Leblanc analyses the cultural history of image producers such as press photo agencies, and the television industry. She considers photographs as a social factor in the circulation of narratives, the construction of values, and social conventions of the visual culture from the 60s to the 80s.

"Visual Culture of the 1960s and the 1970s: Iconographic Exploitation of the Black Star Collection"

The years 1960-75 correspond to the takeover of the management of the Black Star agency by Howard Chapnick. Photographic press agencies are much studied from a news perspective, a specificity they claim and on which the history of photojournalism is built for the most part, especially from the second half of the 20th century. Black Star is one of the flagships in this prestigious American history. However, in order to remain competitive in the vast image market, agencies had to organize complex fund management and could not avoid iconographic exploitation of their funds, a more mundane, less well-known activity. These agencies, which are responsive to multiple news items (news, politics, culture, etc.), i.e. are sensitive to the date of the events photographed, paradoxically adopt a classification of images by theme, including for news, reduced to keywords. The presentation of the Black Star Collection kept at The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) underlines both the diversity of the production and highlights the commercial aspect of the agency (by assigning a special place to the Corporate). This research project wishes to focus on these professional practices that disclose other ways in which photographs produced in agencies are disseminated and contribute to the conditions of image visibility: the iconographic exploitation of the collections. This leads to the understanding of the impact these fonds have on the elaboration of a complex visual culture of the news of this period in the West.

Singer Family Doctoral Fellowship
Dr. Emily Doucet

Emily Doucet is a writer and historian of photography and visual culture. She received her PhD in Art  History from the University of Toronto (2020). She will be an International Fellow with the Institute  of Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen, Germany in Spring 2021. From 2022-2023 she will be  a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill  University. She writes on historical and contemporary art and visual culture for a variety of  publications, including Border Crossings, C Magazine, Canadian Art online, Communication + 1, Lady  Science, Public Parking, among others. Recently, she co-edited a special issue of the journal Grey Room

“Mobile Images: Photographic Formats and the Postal Service, 1870-1945” 

This research project examines the relationship between novel photographic formats and state postal networks in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Particular formats to be considered in this study include microphotographs, Real Photo Postcards, Airgraphs, and V-mail. The use of the Airgraph and V-mail formats by the British and U. S. military, respectively, led to the establishment of international photographic mail operations in locales such as Australia, Burma, Egypt, East Africa, Canada, India, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. The Real Photo Postcard was likewise an object of global exchange. Taking up “format theory” (Sterne, 2012) as a guiding methodology, this project examines the individuals, organizations, and infrastructures which have shaped the politics of photographic innovation as it has intersected with state communication networks. In doing so, this project also interrogates the role of corporations such as Eastman Kodak in the maintenance of colonial communication networks.

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Tal-Or K. Ben-Choreen

Tal-Or K. Ben-Choreen is doctoral candidate at Concordia University in the department of Art History specialising in photography. Her doctoral studies, supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities  Research Council and Fulbright, focus on the institutionalisation of photography education in  Canadian and American schools between 1960 and 1989. Her work has been published in Afterimage Online, Canadian Jewish Studies, and the Contemporary Review of the Middle East

“Constructing the Toronto Metropolitan University Teaching Collection Through Social Connections”  

This study explores the means by which the lecture series and conferences held at the School of Image Arts beginning in 1975 until 1989 impacted the development of The Image Centre's (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) collection. By investigating the collection’s acquisition history relative to these speaking events, I will tease out how these activities shaped the collection and, as a result, creative photography education at  Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) more generally. The growth of photography collections at institutions of higher-education is due in part to educators who stressed the importance of teaching students using ‘master prints.’  These objects were used as pedagogical tools. Beyond this, prints were a practical means to educate  students on the history of photography. During the 1960s and ’70s, ‘master prints’ could be  purchased for modest sums and provided a stronger pedagogical tool compared to slides and  reproductions in books. By exploring the collection’s development via the speakers who were invited  to Toronto Metropolitan University, I will show how the understandings of photographic education at Toronto Metropolitan University aligned or deviated from the historical narrative of the medium emerging largely from American models.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship
Susan Mundy

Susan Mundy holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and political theory from McGill University and is currently a Master’s candidate in the Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management program at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). Her Master’s thesis investigates the visual record of the Bosnian War (1992–1995) and how it has taken shape through the circulation of images in the media and other contexts. Her current research focuses on Magnum photographer Gilles Peress, using his work in Bosnia as an access point to examine the consequences of different cities of circulation for the affective power of images of war. 

“Constructing Yugoslavia in the Western Imagination: An Analytical Survey of the Black Star Collection”

This project involves a methodical survey of the Black Star Collection that will focus on all materials related to Yugoslavia. This research will assess how people, places and events are portrayed in individual photographs, as well as general themes and categories that are typically emphasized in representations of the region. The goal is to discover the patterns of visibility that constructed Yugoslavia in the western imagination by stipulating what was important, peculiar or essential about this place to distant spectators. This work is broadly concerned with understanding the response of Western audiences to the inundation of photojournalism that brought the Balkan crisis into view over the course of the 1990’s. Although the situation in Bosnia was the first in which mass media coverage made genocide visible to the outside world while it was happening, there was a notable disjunct between the available evidence of atrocity and the reaction of the international community. This project ultimately seeks to understand the hegemonic discourse which compelled certain attitudes towards the Balkan region, and to investigate how its specific character may have shaped the affective reactions that were possible for Western audiences when eventually confronted with images of war and human suffering in Bosnia.

The Wendy Snyder MacNeil Research Fellowship
Cynthia Johnston 

A former professional basketball player who competed for Canada at the 1996 Olympics, Cynthia  Johnston holds a MFA in Documentary Media, a BA in Humanities (focus Art History) and a diploma in photojournalism. As a mother of five, the range of her photography practice includes exploring intimate family narratives juxtaposed with street documentary and storytelling for change initiatives through Photographers Without Borders in India. Her working style falls somewhere between painting and photojournalism. 

“Hand Testimonies” 

Looking specifically at the platinum-palladium printed hand images originally photographed by Wendy Snyder MacNeil between 1976 and 1983, the intent is to create a multi-perspective narrative of these “hand portraits”. By closely examining the stories revealed through each image from the standpoint of different individuals who interpret, analyze and see hands in varying ways, the descriptions elicited would be paired up against the actual lives of the individuals whose hand had been photographed by MacNeil. Together, the details of the various hand testimonies will provide a multi-perspective hybrid of factual observations versus poetic, specialization versus anecdotal. These dialogues would essentially create conversations in layers, adding a complexity of “truths” based on perspective and experience while simultaneously contributing to the existing visual archive with one that will also be written.


The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Dr. Naeem Mohaiemen
PhD in Anthropology, Columbia University

Naeem Mohaiemen combines essays, films, and installations to research incomplete decolonizations and world socialism. He is author of Midnight’s Third Child (Nokta, 2020) and Prisoners of Shothik Itihash (Kunsthalle Basel, 2014); editor of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Blind Spot of Bangladesh Nationalism (Drishtipat, 2010); co-editor (w/ Eszter Szakacs) of Solidarity Must be Defended (Tranzit, 2020), and co-editor (w/ Lorenzo Fusi) of System Error: War is a Force that Gives us Meaning (Sylvana, 2007). He received a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University (2019).


“Harmit Singh’s War” 

Trained as an architect, Harmit Singh (1941-2017) became a professional photographer while working as an architect for a UN reconstruction project in Kenya, then newly independent from British rule. He left architecture and returned to India to be a photojournalist in the mid-60s. In 1971, he was sent by a photo agency to cover the war that split Pakistan into two countries–Pakistan and Bangladesh. By the time the war ended, Singh was altered by the experience of photographing the refugee camps, mass graves, and emaciated prisoners of war. He resigned from Black Star and left photojournalism, traveling the world for the rest of his life with an old Leica camera. It was while clearing his belongings after his death that his daughter discovered a collection of Bangladesh slides. The war broke Singh’s will to document history; posthumously we glean his work as straddling the conjuncture of two refugee eras.

Singer Family Doctoral Fellowship
Dr. Gwynne Fulton
Visiting Researcher at Milieux Institute (Montreal)

Gwynne Fulton is an image theorist and film programmer based between Tio’tia:ke/Montreal and Brussels. Her research at the intersection of critical phenomenology and visual culture, focuses on questions of violence and political power. Fulton holds a PhD in Philosophy, Art History and Curatorial Practice from Concordia University (2019). She was a visiting doctoral researcher at the Centre for Research for Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) at Kingston University in London and a Fulbright Curatorial Fellow at Slought Foundation in Philadelphia. She has published in Mosaic Journal, In/Visible Culture, Esse and Dazibao editions and has organized film programs about the carceral state, illegalized migration and the targeted killing of social leaders in Colombia. She is currently a Visiting Researcher at Milieux Institute in Montreal.


“Burning Times: Legacies of Black Radicalism in the Black Star Collection”

This research project examines the ways acts of rioting and revolt have been visualized in The Image Centre's (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) Black Star Collection. It critically addresses the visual cultures of the “riot”—a term that must itself be problematized. Images of Watts and Detroit ablaze spread across the pages of Time and Life magazines throughout the 1960s and 1970s. These iconic images burn to remember, but in burning, they effect a kind of erasure of the everyday violence that forms the background of black social life in the United States. The riot emerges not only as a political problem, but as an aesthetic one. Dominant representational structures tend to reinforce narratives of the riot as a space of violent black masculinity in a state of exception. To unsettle this narrative, this project scavenges the IMC's archives for images of urban rebellion in the Black Power era, with a specific focus on marginal figures of women and girls—both as collective ensembles of participants and solitary witnesses. Following an improvisational approach, I trace a counter-history of the riot, read through the prisms of women’s gesture and sound, across multiple US temporalities and geographies. Attending to the structural conditions of the riot, this project addresses legacies of anti-blackness and collective resistance to police brutality, violent and non-violent protest, as well as black radical aesthetic practices.

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Alexandra Gooding
MA student, Film + Photography Preservation and Collections Management, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University)

Alexandra Gooding migrated to Toronto from Barbados to study photography. She obtained her BFA in Photography Studies (Hons) from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) in 2015 and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Toronto Metropolitan University's (formerly Ryerson University) Film + Photography Preservation and Collections Management program. She has received numerous scholarships, including an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2018), a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s award (2019), and a Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement (2020). She is interested in critically examining the geographic vocabularies used in conjunction with standards for archival descriptions in galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs) in order to demonstrate how these exclusive vocabularies inhibit accurate descriptions of complex regions—such as the circum-Caribbean—in collections catalogues. Alexandra recently presented preliminary research on this topic at the 2019 Museums Association of the Caribbean Conference in Martinique, and is currently undertaking her thesis research at Cambridge University Library, England.


 “Re-'Discovering' the (Circum-)Caribbean: Finding the Region in the Black Star Collection”

This project involves examining The Image Centre's (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) holdings of over 1000 photographs depicting Caribbean countries in the Black Star Collection. The many possible definitions for "the Caribbean" and how this region is often subsumed by neighbouring regions in archival descriptions often hinder researchers’ attempts to easily locate Caribbean-related materials in institutional collections. The relatively new term “circum-Caribbean” is an attempt to denote the Caribbean while acknowledging its affiliated mainland nations. The Black Star Collection originates from the Black Star press agency, which had no steadfast standards for subject labeling of images. Since this filing system has been maintained, images of the circum-Caribbean and its constituent nations are spread over 250-plus subject headings. This project seeks to produce a clear and complete itemised finding aid for all relevant images in the Collection, with a clear definition of what countries constitute the Caribbean, according to Black Star’s labeling. The goal is to improve user access and intellectual accessibility to these materials so that new histories and representations of this region might be revealed—particularly since Black Star’s lifespan (1936 to the early 1990s) overlapped with many Caribbean nations' journeys to independence and attempts at formal regional organisation.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship
Frances Dorenbaum
Independent curator and art historian

Frances Dorenbaum is a curator and art historian from Toronto. She earned an MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory, and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she focused her research on the relationship between photographic images and text in contemporary visual culture. She has collaborated on exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston. She was the inaugural Edith Gowin Curatorial Fellow in Photography at the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, where she organized Among Others: Photography and the Group(2019). Her writing has appeared in Hugh Edwards at the Art Institute of Chicago, 1959-1970 (2017). She is also the co-founder and co-curator of COLLABO, a curatorial project that investigates how domestic settings can be spaces for experimentation and connectivity.


“The enduring divisive effects of framing and cropping: An examination of late twentieth-century press images of Indigenous Peoples in Canada from the Rudolph P. Bratty Family and Black Star collections”

I plan to examine images in the Rudolph P. Bratty Family Collection and the Black Star Collection that illustrate articles about Indigenous Peoples in Canada. I will focus on images made from the 1970s on, when some North American newspapers began to dedicate more consistent space to news relating to Indigenous communities. My overarching aim is to begin to classify the types of images in The Image Centre's (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) Bratty and Black Star collections in order to better understand how these images were used in daily storytelling and how their compositions may have reinforced the alienation and misrepresentation of Indigenous communities in Canada. I intend to track specific criteria including the makers of the images; how the images were framed and cropped; and how often and in what contexts this significant, yet largely neglected, group of people was represented in the press. I will also compare and contrast how the subjects were portrayed in the images versus the text within the published articles. Finally, I will investigate if any unpublished photographs are saved in the collections and if those appear significantly different from the editors’ selections for print.

The Edie Yolles Research Prize
Emily McKibbon
Associate Director/Senior Curator, MacLaren Art Centre

Emily McKibbon is the Associate Director/Senior Curator at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, Ontario. She has previously worked in curatorial, collections and research capacities at the George Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY; Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre), Toronto; and the National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Auckland. She is a 2010 graduate of the Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) Master of Arts program in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management.


In Black Star: 60 Years of Photojournalism, historian Hendrik Neubauer describes how photographers, editors and agents formed a “magic triangle” of productivity during the golden age of this major American photo-agency. Utilizing Black Star administrative materials held by the IMC, as well as published photographs from the IMC's complete run of Life magazine, this project scrutinizes the day-to-day administrative tasks of the agency to generate a fuller understanding of the ordinary business of photo agencies in the twentieth century. This research is an integral part of a larger examination of the history of Sovfoto/Eastfoto, a New York City-based photo agency operated by American citizens working at arms length from the Soviet government from 1931 or 1932. By investigating two vectors of the so-called “magic triangle” at Black Star—agents and editors—this research will allow a better understanding of the business model that Sovfoto emulated during its heyday as the most prolific distributor of Soviet propaganda in the United States.


The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Marianne le Galliard
PhD, independent art historian 

Marianne le Galliard is an independent art historian. Her work focuses on the history of photography and modern art, specifically fashion photography, magazines, and photographic albums. Her PhD thesis, titled “Lartigue in the Eyes of Avedon: The Issue of the Photographic Album with Diary of a Century (1970),” explores the relationship between French and American photographers Jacques Henri Lartigue and Richard Avedon. As the 2015–16 winner of the Louis Roederer Research Scholarship in Photography, she curated the exhibition Avedon’s France, Old World, New Look at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris (2016).

"The Side Pictures of the Black Star Collection" 

Studying the photographs in the well-known American magazine Harper's Bazaar between the 1930s and the 1970s, Marianne le Galliard came across a number of photographs attributed to Black Star. Very often these images, and the way they would appear, can be described as “unspecific,” “vague,” or at times even “puzzling.” This research project proposes to investigate the particular status of these pictures, which seem to stand aside from the categorized standards of photography, whether that is documentary, reportage, fashion, advertising, or portrait. The proposal derives from two main challenges: Would it be possible to isolate the pictures from The Image Centre's (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) Black Star Collection that correspond to this grey area of the "side" category? Then, assuming a body of work can be assembled, how can we define these images which appear to be devoid of a determined subject? As a result, this study will offer an original look at the more “discrete” work that belongs to the Black Star Collection and could potentially open up discussions on the cataloguing and inventory of photographs that lack a definite subject as such.

The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) Research Fellowship
Adam Lauder

SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at York University (Toronto, Canada)

Adam Lauder is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at York University in Toronto. He obtained a PhD from the Department of History of Art at the University of Toronto in 2016. His current research employs the non-aesthetics of François Laruelle to study Canadian information art in the 1970s—a time when artists began to explore new scientific frameworks and modalities of “fiction.”

“The Mechanical Bride in the Age of Photo(-mechanical) Journalism: Reconnecting McLuhan, Black Star and Life Magazine”

This research project sets out to uncover the impact that photojournalism, specifically that of the New York-based Black Star photo agency, had on media analyst Marshall McLuhan’s first monograph, The Mechanical Bride (1951). It will ask the question: To what extent were McLuhan’s influential claims about the impact of mass media in general, and the innovative forms that those claims took in The Mechanical Bride in particular, shaped by the visual strategies developed by Black Star photojournalists as packaged and disseminated by Life magazine? A secondary question will also be asked: How did the socio-political context documented by Life magazine at mid-century (changing gender roles, racial tensions, armed conflicts and the Cold War) shape these same claims? Current conversations about the impact of media—be they social media or predatory purveyors of “fake” news—lend renewed relevance to McLuhan’s commentaries on the entanglement of news and social attitudes, yet also demand that one scrutinize the sources and ideological contexts that originally informed them.

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Jackson Davidow

PhD candidate in History, Theory, and Criticism of Art at MIT

Jackson Davidow is a doctoral candidate in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art program at MIT, where he is completing a dissertation titled “Viral Visions: Art, Epidemiology, and Spatial Practices in the Global AIDS Pandemic.” He is currently a Junior Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. His article “Art Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and American Modernism” appeared in the summer 2018 issue of American Art.

“Reframing Jo Spence: Phototherapy and Health Activism in 1980s London”

This project will use the Jo Spence Memorial Archive held at The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) to analyze the intersections of art, therapy, and health activism in 1980s London. Focusing on the concept of phototherapy, this project will dwell on three interconnected research concerns that collectively have the potential to reveal new elements of Spence’s life work. Firstly, the project will attempt to establish a stronger understanding of the networks of cultural production in which she operated. Secondly, it will strive to obtain a better sense of the ways in which phototherapy was engaged in local health politics, specifically the women’s health and AIDS activist movements. Rather than solely treating phototherapy as a method that emerged through the creative vision of Spence and Rosy Martin in 1983, this project will work to situate the practice within a complex local landscape of health activism and feminist critique of Western science, medicine, and psychology. Thirdly, this research will endeavour to elucidate the relationship between phototherapy and other arts-based therapeutic methods.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship
Carla-Jean Stokes
MA in History from Wilfrid Laurier University and MA in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University)

Carla-Jean Stokes has a Masters of History from Wilfrid Laurier University, as well as a Masters of Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). Carla-Jean won the 2015 Photographic Historical Society of Canada thesis prize for her paper, “British Official First World War Photographs, 1916-1918: Arranging and Contextualizing a Collection of Prints at the Art Gallery of Ontario,” later published in Photographic Canadiana. She has also written for the Laurier Centre for Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Legion and Espirit de Corps magazine.

“'Somewhere in France:' Contextualizing The Image Centre's (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) Collection of Canadian First World War Photographs" 

This project involves examining The Image Centre's (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) collection of 120 Canadian official First World War photographs previously used by the New York Times and currently part of the Rudolph P. Bratty Family Collection held at The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre). The photographs were produced by the Canadian War Records Office (CWRO) and distributed to newspapers internationally with the goal of raising Canada’s profile abroad. This research project aims to contextualize the photographs at an item level by providing further information on makers, dates, locations, and associated events. It will also involve identifying similar photographs in other Canadian collections in order to build relationships between photograph repositories and to assist in the better understanding of The Image Centre's (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) collection.  


The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Norman Domeier 
Assistant Professor of Modern European History at the University of Stuttgart (Germany).

He is currently on leave until March 2018 as the Lise Meitner Fellow at the Institute for Contemporary History at the University of Vienna (Austria). The English edition of his Ph.D thesis, The Eulenburg Affair. A Cultural History of Politics in the German Empire, was published by Boydell & Brewer in 2015. His second book project—the focus of his current work—looks at the relationship between foreign journalists and Nazi Germany in the years between 1932 and 1946.

New discoveries in archival papers connected to World War II foreign correspondent Louis P. Lochner prove the existence of a secret cooperation between the Associated Press (AP) in the United States, and the Bureau Laux, an agency of the SS and the German Foreign Office. Between 1942 and 1945, with permission from the Roosevelt administration, AP and the Bureau Laux exchanged photographs on a daily basis. Transiting via Lisbon, but also Stockholm beginning in 1943/44, approximately 40,000 photographs were swapped between the war enemies until spring 1945. In Berlin, the AP photographs were presented daily to Adolf Hitler and the highest Nazi leadership. They were also used for anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda in the German press. Conversely, thousands of Nazi photographs received by AP New York were printed in the American, Canadian and international press. This research project in the Black Star Collection will shed new light on AP as a news and picture agency, foreign reporting, and the political use of photographs during the Nazi era and the Second World War

The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) Research Fellowship
Vanessa Lakewood
Ph.D candidate in Art History and Visual Culture at York University in Toronto (Canada).

She has researched photographic collections and worked on exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Canada), the Art Museum at the University of Toronto (Canada), Georgian College Campus Gallery (Canada), and the J. Paul Getty Museum (United States). She is completing her dissertation on the American documentary photographer Martha Cooper, a trained photojournalist who quit her job at the New York Post in 1980 to pursue documentary projects on youth culture, street life, and the subversive underground art movements of graffiti and Hip Hop

This research project, titled Picturing Wild Style, is about the role of photography in representing and making visible aesthetic practices in Black life and lives in New York City in the post-Civil Rights era. Referencing a style of graffiti lettering that is deliberately illegible to the public, this project summons critical inquiry about photography as a cultural platform for aesthetic and community visibility. The Post-Civil Rights generation witnessed a convergence of repressive policies under then-President Ronald Reagan and Mayor Ed Koch. Photojournalism of the city’s street life thus informed its public conception as a site of social and democratic struggle, notable for the structural decay of its built environment and an imbalanced representation of racial politics. Surveying the Black Star agency’s New York pictures of 1977–1984 will define what Rachel Malik has described as “horizons of the publishable,” revealing how Cooper negotiated prevailing modes of representation while striving to make the joyous and illicit creative actions of her young subjects seen as something other than an urban problem.

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Philippe Depairon 
Holds a B.A. (Hons.) in Art History from the Université de Montréal (Canada).

He is the recipient of master’s scholarships from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Fonds de recherche du Québec-Société et culture. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree centered on the work of photojournalist Kazuma Obara and the visual and material culture of nuclear energy.

After completing a series of photographs on the fallout of the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima in 2011, Kazuma Obara turned his lens on Chernobyl for his 2016 body of work Exposure. For this project, Obara took pictures of survivors using analog film exposed to radioactivity during the 1986 event. By doing so he actualized the catastrophe and his subjects found semantic echoes in the damaged properties of the film. The Black Star Collection provides the opportunity to draw a global portrait of nuclear visual culture. Obara’s work eludes the tropes of “the monstrous,” “the nuclear sublime” and “post-industrial ruins” and invites the spectator to rethink what radioactivity looks like, and how it has—and still is—impacting people. This research project aims to better understand the multiple ways nuclear imagery was developed and transmitted, and how Obara’s practice inscribes itself therein.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship 
Jorge Ayala 
Holds a Master’s degree in Documentary Media, and a Bachelor’s degree in New Media from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) (Canada).

Prior to this, he studied at the Hochschule der Medien in Stuttgart (Germany) and interned at The Cuban Cinematheque (Havana). His practice explores issues of temporality, ephemerality and immersive experiences, with a current focus on themes of memory, identity, and Latin American revolutionary cinema.

During the early years of the revolution, access to Cuba by the foreign press, filmmakers and tourists was gradually restricted. The majority of images of life on the island were obtained from locally produced films that, due to the US embargo, had limited distribution. As the Soviet-subsidized economy collapsed in the early 1990s, the island slowly reopened its borders to tourism at the same time as it maintained a slight veil of mystery around itself: snapshots of beautiful but crumbling Havana buildings, colourful 1950s American cars, and the Buena Vista Social Club film are but a few examples of the cliché imagery of an island exoticized by tourists, visitors and foreign media alike. This project will examine Black Star photographs by Fred Ward and other foreign photojournalists taken between 1960 and 1990, and compare them with images created by local photographers in Cuba. How much access was granted to foreign photographers on the island? How did this access, or lack thereof, influence the images they made? And what differences can we establish between the images created by locals versus foreign photojournalists?


The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Christian Joschke
Assistant Professor at the University Paris-Nanterre and lecturer at the University of Geneva.

During 2016–17, he is substitute professor at the University of Lausanne. He is currently working on a research project with the Centre Pompidou in Paris about social and documentary photography in the 1930's. He recently published Les yeux de la nation. Photographie amateur dans l'Allemagne de Guillaume II, Dijon, Les presses du réel, 2013 and La Guerre 14 – 18, Photopoche, 2014.

The transnational market of soviet images. 
Union-Foto and the US agencies in the 1930’s
How were the Soviet photographs sold in foreign countries during the interwar period? Who were the actors and institutions who organized the international market of these images? Though there has been much written about photography in the USSR, the history of the Soviet photo-agencies still needs to be explored. In a recent book, Jean-François Fayet pointed out the role of the Soviet unofficial diplomacy for the elaboration of the communist press in foreign countries, especially in Switzerland. As the Comintern was to financially help the communist press, the VOKS, led by Olga Kameneva, was important for logistical matters. This organization launched an international photo-agency, Russ-Foto, which became in 1931 Soyuz-Foto. These agencies did spread out their material to the communist illustrated press around the world. How where these photographs distributed in Western countries? Who were the partner agencies? This project aims at finding out how the commerce of Soviet photographs was organized in Western countries, especially in the US.

The Doina Popescu Fellowship
Victoria Gao
A doctoral candidate in the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, with a focus on twentieth-century American road photography.

She is currently writing a dissertation on the photographic and filmic work of Berenice Abbott, Robert Frank, and William Christenberry. She also has a strong interest in curatorial studies and has interned at several museums, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In 1954 Berenice Abbott took a tour of the east coast of the United States, driving along U.S. Route 1 from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida. Carefully focused, steadily crafted, and endeavoring to create a portrait of an American public in a time of transition, the photographs of her unpublished book proposal U.S. 1 reveal a sharply satirical critique of 1950s American society through the juxtapositions of smiling middle class families and colorful advertising slogans against racial segregation, commercial waste, struggling local economies, and gender inequality. This series was acquired as part of the Berenice Abbott Archive by The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) in 2015, and my project is to conduct a thorough study of the U.S. 1 series, which includes over 1,500 negatives, as primary research for a dissertation chapter. By examining the subjects Abbott chose, the color process she used, the commercial advertisements she saw, and the images she ultimately turned into prints, this project will better understand how Abbott’s photographs are contextualized within the road photography genre and contribute to the existing scholarship on her work as a whole. 

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Zoë Lepiano
A photographic researcher and archivist.

She holds a BFA in Photography from Concordia and a MA in Photographic Collections Management from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). Her current research intersects the material history of photographic production, with a particular focus on the art practices of women at the turn of the 21st Century.

The Image Centre's (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) Wendy Snyder MacNeil Archive contains over five thousand objects; preparatory work—mock-ups, test prints, maquettes—negatives and exhibition prints, personal ephemera and publications spanning MacNeil’s lengthy career. Biographies and Album Pages are the only sub-series within MacNeil’s archive with multiple types of objects housed together, organized by sitter. The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) database has multiple listings under these sitters’ names. Missing from the organization of these objects are the personal histories and connections between MacNeil and her subjects—the foundation for MacNeil’s practice and the subsequent platinum palladium prints that she is best known for. Adding this information to the database records that comprise the archival fonds, allows a clearer reading of MacNeil’s relationships and working process, and their interwoven nature.I intend to consult the holdings to gather links and information between the sous-fonds, connecting ephemera, audio recordings, negatives and preparatory work to MacNeil’s final prints.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship 
Joey Brooke Jakob
A PhD candidate in the joint graduate program in Communication and Culture at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) and York University. 

Joey Brooke Jakob has a background in various forms of media production, including filmmaking, photography, and radio. At present, she studies media: employing a combined sociohistorical and comparative approach, she negotiates the meanings of visual and rhetorical forms. Focusing on alleviating social inequalities, Joey believes we can think through, and then move toward, enacting improvements in our communities.

‘Better Than The Movies’: Representing Enmity, Victory, and Vicarious Emotion in War Photographs from the Black Star Collection
Civilians play a large role in the narratives that circulate alongside photojournalistic accounts of war. The Black Star Collection holds a photo taken by J.P. Charbonnier in 1945, featuring a gathered crowd that watches the execution of a French traitor. Charbonnier describes the photo: “People are laughing, waiting for revenge. This is going to be better than the movies”. His description is relevant, pointing toward viewers’ engagement, not as that of passive bystanders, but instead toward their active celebration of a brutal event. Using this and other historical photographs from the Collection, this project explains how regular people help to build supportive war narratives for their “side”, by participating in the acrimony toward “enemy Others”. By illustrating ‘vicarious emotion’, whereby the portrayal of successful combat is represented in images intended for popular circulation, civilians are active producers of cultural or shared memories: to be photographed emanating emotional support for the war effort is to partake in its victory, which culminates in the making of a photographic war trophy. 


The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Dr. Nadya Bair
Historian of photojournalism, photography, and twentieth century art.

Dr. Nadya Bair's manuscript, The Decisive Network: Magnum Photos and Postwar Photojournalism,
examines how a network of photographers and photo editors transitioned out of World War II and
expanded the role of news photography between the late 1940s and early 1960s. She holds a
PhD in Art History and the Graduate Certificate in Visual Studies from the University of
Southern California (US) and was awarded the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion
Fellowship in 2015-2016.

The Black Star photographic agency participated in the supply and demand for images of the
Civil Rights movement in the US between the late 1950s and early 1970s. According to the
media critic Daniel Boorstin, this was the era of pseudo-news, in which events were organized
in order to be documented by the camera and then circulated via print and television
journalism. Boorstin focused on the media strategies of politicians and celebrities who blurred
the lines between journalism and public relations, but there was another equally media-savvy
group functioning within the US at this time: the leaders and activists of the Civil Rights
movement, who recognized that their activities would not make a difference unless they were
documented through photography and reported on by the press. The fight for Civil Rights was
therefore not merely documented by, but rather constituted through photographic images. Yet
the quantity of images circulating in America at this time, as well as the multiple sites for
their publication and display, make it necessary to study Civil Rights photography as a system
and to look beyond the singular images that appeared in print or the mainstream publications
that published them.

Approaching this subject from the perspective of Black Star as a picture
agency allows for such a systemic study. This project will first expand our understanding of
the RIC’s Black Star Collection by identifying the scope and content of its civil rights
coverage, and then trace select photographic essays into general and specialized publications
including but not limited to Life and Jet magazines. It will compare Black Star’s coverage to
picture stories produced by its competitor Magnum Photos and the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee (SNCC). By doing so, it will attempt to understand how Civil Rights
photography as a system and as a body of images was shaped by both insiders (i.e. activists)
and outsiders (Black Star and potentially Magnum) while demonstrating the power dynamics
between image producers. Who had the capacity to create and circulate high-profile images
and why? How did Civil Rights leaders relate to New York-based and local teams of photographers,
including at Black Star, or editorial boards at magazines and newspapers? And what kinds of stories
can we tell about the system of photojournalism and about Civil Rights based on the unpublished
photographs in RIC’s Black Star Collection?

The Doina Popescu Fellowship
Dr. Vincent Lavoie
Professor of Art History at the University du Québec à Montréal.

Dr. Vincent Lavoie's work addresses the history and contemporary forms of photographic
evidence. He is the author of L’instant-monument. Du fait divers à l’humanitaire (Dazibao,
2001); Photojournalismes. Revoir les canons de l’image de presse (Hazan, 2010); L’affaire
Capa. Le procès d’une icône (Éditions Textuels, 2017), and the editor of La preuve par
l’image (PUQ, 2017). He has contributed to books published by Routlegde, Bloomsbury, La
Lettre volée, McGill-Queen's University Press and MIT Press/The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) Book
Series. Vincent Lavoie is the director of the scholarly journal Captures. Figures, théories et
pratiques de l’imaginaire.

Robert Cohen’s Courtroom Portraits and the Paparazzi Gaze
From the Dreyfus affair to the Klaus Barbie trial, from the Lindbergh kidnapping to the O. J.
Simpson trial, every major court case has provided illustrators and press photographers with
an opportunity to translate highlights into images. In fact, it would be hard to imagine a
judicial narrative without illustrations. Photographic portrayals of legal proceedings and
criminal trials are inscribed within an economics of the illustrated press, with its historic
figures, its embryonic historiography, and even its imposed aesthetics. This project is
intended to support the hypothesis that Robert Cohen’s courtroom portraits taken in the 1950s
and 1960s fell within the new rhetorical register of celebrity photography, thus propelling
his shots into the lucrative market of portrayals of stars. An examination of the circuits for
distribution of Cohen’s images and a comparative analysis of the visual schemes found in his
production, and that of paparazzi of the time, will enable verification of this hypothesis,
which postulates an intermingling of news photography, courtroom ritual, the portrait genre,
and image consumption.

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Catherine Lachowskyj
Graduate student in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University).

Catherine Lachowskyj's research interests include colonial
imagery of Tibet, material culture, and vernacular photography. She is currently pursuing a
six-month residency in the photographs collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The Image Centre's (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) Black Star Collection contains 136 photographs by the
American photographer Henry Wilhelm, who is primarily situated within the history of
photography as the world’s leading expert on colour photographic processes. Absent from this
legacy is Wilhelm’s time spent as a photojournalist, working both independently and for the
Black Star Agency to photograph anti-war demonstrations. By cross-referencing Wilhelm’s
prints in the RIC’s Black Star Collection with his personal negatives, the original sequencing
of depicted events will be determined and documented to provide insight into both Wilhelm’s
own history, as well as the Black Star’s role as an agent in its members’ image printing,
sorting and publishing. Further research will be done to determine where Wilhelm’s
photographs were published, and interviews with Wilhelm will also be conducted and

The Elaine Ling Fellowship
Dr. Gabrielle Moser

Writer, curator, and lecturer at OCAD University.

Dr. Gabrielle Moser is writer and curator based in Toronto, Canada. She organizes exhibitions
and events about photography, spectatorship, and pedagogy, including Gallery TPW’s
monthly out-loud looking group No Looking After the Internet. As an independent curator,
she has organized exhibitions for Access Gallery, Gallery TPW, V-tape, and Xpace in
Toronto. Her writing appears in, Art in America, Canadian Art, Fillip, Journal
of Visual Culture, Photography and Culture and Prefix Photo, as well as numerous books and
exhibition catalogues. She holds a PhD in Art History and Visual Culture from York
University (CA) and is a lecturer at OCAD University (CA).

Picturing Citizenship in Black and White: Photography, race and print media in North
America, 1900–48
This project proposes to build a visual vocabulary of citizenship by analyzing how
photographers, subjects, and viewers used the camera to make claims for belonging in Canada
and the United States. In particular, this research project looks at the ways citizenship was
pictured as a transnational form of belonging that operated across borders, racial categories,
and beyond the frame of national laws. This project will be the first of its kind in examining
what citizenship looks like in the photographic record, focusing on the unique way that
citizenship took shape in Canada, emerging as a photographic subject long before it became a
legal one (Canada adopted the Citizenship Act in 1948). By conducting research in The Image Centre's (formerly Ryerson Image Centre) Black Star Collection, this research project will analyze moments in
the photographic archive where racialized subjects used transnational understandings of
citizenship to negotiate their status in a highly visible, and visualized, way. It takes as its case
study the use of photography in a series of African-Canadian- owned newspapers and
evaluates how these publications engaged in a visual dialogue with minority-owned
newspapers in the United States. This project plans to look at how images of citizenship
circulated across borders by turning to the press photographs produced for and distributed to
American audiences by the Black Star agency. By reading these photographic archives
against one another, the project analyzes how photography shaped demands for citizenship in
a period that saw the increased prevalence of camera technology alongside growing numbers
of minority-owned newspapers based in Chicago, New York, Vancouver, Toronto and
Halifax. This historical period is a generative one for thinking about how civic belonging
came to be visualized in both texts and photographs, before the Civil Rights era, and how
these everyday representations of citizenship responded to depictions of racial violence in the
mainstream press.


The Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship
Dr. Heather A. Diack

Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Miami.

Heather A. Diack is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Miami (US) where
she teaches Modern and Contemporary Art, Theory, and the History of Photography. Though
her teaching covers all aspects of art after 1945 and the legacies of the early avant-garde, Dr.
Diack’s research focuses on conceptual art in relation to photography. Diack received her
PhD from the University of Toronto (CA), and is a graduate of the art history program of
McGill University (CA) and the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of
American Art (US). Before joining the University of Miami faculty, Diack was a postdoctoral
fellow and lecturer in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University
of British Columbia (CA), and a lecturer at the University of Toronto, York University, and
NSCAD University (CA). Her scholarship has been supported by the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council of Canada, DAAD/ Goethe Institute, the National Endowment
for the Humanities, the Jackman Humanities Institute, and the Canadian Centre for
Architecture in Montreal, among others.

Although many scholars concur that photography became visible as the pre-eminent medium
of contemporary art in the late 1960s, there is as yet little consensus or in-depth study as to
how this came about, or what is at stake in this development. Moreover, visual and
meaningful correspondences between the photographs of conceptual artists and that of
contemporary photojournalists have yet to be critically interrogated. This project will consider
the role of photography in society at the height of the Vietnam War, identifying
manifestations of conflict and community in the archives and collections of The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre), and putting these photographs into conversation with the work of conceptual
artists of the same period. This project will culminate in an examination of the specific social
and aesthetic contexts involved in the redefinition of art and photography in the United States
during this profoundly turbulent moment.

The Doina Popescu Fellowship
Dorothea Schöne

PhD Candidate at the University of Hamburg and a Berlin-based art historian and curator.

After receiving an MA in Art History and Political Science at the University of Leipzig (DE) in
2006, Dorothea Schöne was awarded a Fulbright Grant to pursue pre-doctoral research at the
University of California, Riverside (US). From 2006-2010 she was curatorial assistant at the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art and has been awarded grants from the German Academic Exchange
Program and the German Historical Institute in Washington D.C. In Spring 2014, Schöne started working
as the Chief Curator at Kunsthaus Dahlem.

Like no other magazine, Life has profoundly shaped the perception of West German
modernism through a number of articles and artist’s profiles both within Germany and the
Anglo-Saxon hemisphere. This project will explore two main collections: the Wermer Wolff
Archive and the Life magazine collection. Both will be studied for the purpose of proposing
an exhibition at the newly founded museum Kunsthaus Dahlem in Berlin, in collaboration
with The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre). Werner Wolff’s documentary photographs of postwar Germany are little known
in Berlin, though he has inspired numerous contemporary artists. The proposed exhibition will
therefore be an intervention: by inviting journalism schools in Germany to address the
reporting of arts and culture and the canonization of art, it will provide a platform for

The Howard Tanenbaum Fellowship
Lisa Yarnell

Graduate student in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University).

Lisa Yarnell holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Tufts University (US). Presently, she is a
second year Master’s student in the Film and Photography Preservation and Collections
Management program at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) (CA).

The Black Star Collection contains 550 photographs by the American photographer Bill
Burke (b. 1943) taken in the United States and abroad between 1970 and 1989. They are
presently, categorized into 148 Black Star subject headings. This project has two primary
goals: first it will establish dates for as many images as possible evaluating and possibly
updating assigned headings. Second, an interview will be arranged with Bill Burke in Boston,
Massachusetts to further understand his relationship with the Black Star Agency.

The Elaine Ling Fellowship
Rowan Lear
Artist, writer, and independent researcher based in Bristol, England. Instructor of photography history and theory at Ffotogallery, Chapter Arts, Cardiff.

Rowan Lear holds an MA from Swansea College of Art (UK) in Photography: Contemporary
Dialogues and a BA (Hons) in Photography and Film from Edinburgh Napier University
(UK). Lear also teaches photography history and theory at Ffotogallery, Chapter Arts,

By conducting primary research in the Heritage Camera Collection in Toronto Metropolitan University's (formerly Ryerson University) Special Collections this project draws upon the phenomenological,
embodied and observational description of photographing in Vilém Flusser’s essay
The Gesture of Photographing (2011). Flusser describes the photographer’s gesture
as one of movement, manipulation and reflection, and likens it to that of the
philosopher. Recognizing that Flusser's analysis is based on a limited concept of a
physical camera, this project proposed to study the numerous variations in camera
design that have occurred throughout the short history of photography. Through close
scrutiny, careful handling and detailed phenomenological description of changes in
weight, texture, manoeuvrability, focal length, viewfinder design and shutter speed,
this project hopes to understand how these aspects affect the gesture of photographing.