The modular training programme for building competencies and skills in working with photographic collections and archives was held in Zagreb from October 2021 to February 2022, as part of the international project The Cycle – European training in photographic legacy management".
The programme was designed in cooperation with experts from the Spéos School of Photography and the Magnum, who conducted a similar pilot training programme in 2021 in Paris.
This Creative Europe project is ongoing until the end of 2022 and is led in cooperation of five partners. The goal is to explore sustainable training and research programmes, as well as new models for protection and management of photographic collections and legacies.
The programme allows young professionals to get an insight into the complex issues related to working with private and public photographic collections and archives, pointing out various aspects of knowledge, competencies and skills required for working with photographic heritage, independently and in different situations and contexts.
The 2021 Zagreb programme was attended by seven young experts and graduates of university studies: Magdalena Blažić (history, information sciences, archival studies), Hanna Davidović (art history, English), Petra Galović (art history, comparative literature), Lucija Habuš (art history, Czech), Ivan Huljev (archeology, history), Filip Kartelo (sociology, information sciences), Ana Lucić-Telišman (art history, museology, etnology, cultural antropology).
Participants were admitted to the programme following their applications to a public call in July 2021. At the end of the programme, they received certificates of participation and recommendations with highlighted competencies and skills acquired throughout the training.
The theoretical and discursive part of the training, organised by the Office for Photography, consisted of several workshops, lectures and meetings. The first one was a workshop on historical photographic techniques by Hrvoje Gržina, PhD, followed by a panel discussion with owners of private collections (Neven Budak, Darko Šimičić, Antun Maračić, and Bojana Švetrasek). Lana Lovrenčić gave a lecture on professional and scientific work with the private archive of Petar Dabac, and Sandra Križić Roban, PhD, lectured on the topic of “The Impossible History of Photography”. Antonija Letinić and Marija Krnić moderated a seven-day workshop on project writing and audience development.
The intensive hands-on part of the training lasted for 12 weeks and took place at the Institute of Art History (mentor and coordinator: Irena Šimić). It was organised in thematic modules, led by experts from different fields and profiles. Module I, “Context, provenance, biography, identification” was led by Hrvoje Gržina, PhD, senior archivist from the Croatian State Archives and the Central Photo Laboratory. Module II, “Information Management, Standards and Practice” was led by Goran Zlodi, PhD, from the Department of Information Sciences, Faculty of Philosophy. Module III, “Digitisation and digital archives – concepts, strategies and practices” was led by Sandro Đukić, a photographer and artist whose practice is closely related to the topics of archival and memory concepts. Module IV, “Preservation, protection and conservation of photographs” was led by Martina Bagatin, senior conservator of paper and photography at the Croatian State Archives.
The programme was designed as an integrated model applicable to working with individual photographic oeuvres, institutional or private collections, as well as photographic archives and legacies. The model included various aspects and approaches: studying the physical state of photographic objects, researching context, provenance and biography, identification and cataloguing, preventive protection and long-term storage, research and valorisation methodology, digitisation methods, models of building digital archives and scenarios of public availability, presentation and development of project activities.
Participants worked on different photographic collections stored at the Institute of Art History in Zagreb, with a focus on the non-systematised part of the Nenad Gattin Photo Archive and the cardboard collection of photographic prints, which is an integral part of the Institute's Photo Library.
The training comprised various formats: lecture, discussion, independent work on the collection, workshop, study visit, reading, focus groups, participation at a conference, presentation and written report.
All activities were carried out in interdisciplinary teams, were planned according to the organic structure of a particular collection, and adjusted to the participants’ competencies, skills, interests and prior knowledge. Peer learning was encouraged throughout the project, and especially in preparing thematic workshops. Independent work that was not directly related to a collection consisted of reading, researching specific topics and preparing a presentation at the end of each module.
Thanks to the practical hands-on approach applied throughout the mentoring programme, the participants were able to apply the knowledge gained in the workshops and other discursive formats and get a better insight into the topic, with the constant presence and support of experts.
Study visits and conference
To gain insight into examples of good practices, the participants visited the Croatian State Archives (photo archive repository and storage, Central Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration and the reading room of the AGEFOTO collection), as well as the Tošo Dabac Archive and the Vjenceslav Richter and Nada Kareš Richter Archive, both managed by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb.
An especially valuable contribution to the programme was the opportunity to participate at a three-day international scientific conference “Bringing down the Archive Fever”, held as part of in October 2021 in Zagreb, which brought together over 30 outstanding lecturers from Europe and the USA. A significant segment of the training programme, dedicated to copyright topics, consisted of participating at MAKK, a two-day International Authors' and Creative Conference, which focused on the recently adopted new national rules on copyright and related rights.
Having in mind the importance of a wider network of experts in strengthening this type of educational formats, each thematic module was followed by “crit talks”, an interactive session during which participants presented topics and examples from their training programme to experts from various fields. The guest critics were: Tonko Barčot (archivist, State Archives in Dubrovnik, Archival Center for Korčula and Lastovo), Tamara Štefanac, PhD (Senior Archivist, National and University Library), prof. Sanja Cvetnić, PhD (full professor, Department of Art History, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb), Ana Marija Habjan (editor, director and screenwriter, Croatian National Television), Marko Tadić (artist and assistant professor at the Academy of Fine Arts), Boris Dundović (architect and conservator from the Institute of Art History).
At the end of the programme, the participants prepared written reports and management plans for the collections they had worked on during the programme.
Based on the examined practices and our own experience gained during the pilot programme, we are planning to cooperate with co-partners from The Cycle and develop a manual on the care, protection and management of photographic collections and legacies, with the aim of wider dissemination of knowledge and best practices.
Further activities carried out within The Cycle project can be followed on its official website.
Sandra Križić Roban