May 22, 2021 to November 7, 2021

Rautenstrauch-Joest cat

Scratching the Black Box of Colonial Photographs - a collaborative work by Artist Meets Archive artist Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh

Artist Meets Archive #2 is the central programme of the International Photoscene Festival 2021, with which the significant diversity and quality of photography in the city's collections and archives will be made visible through exchange with international artists*. In addition to the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum, the Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, the Central Archive of the German Aerospace Centre, the German Dance Archive Cologne and the Foundation of the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Wirtschaftsarchiv will open their collections and archives for a joint project.
Artist Meets Archive #2 will take place for the second time in May 2021 in cooperation with the International Photoscene Cologne at the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum. Artist Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh, who explored the museum and the photographic archive for an artist residency programme in summer 2020, will present her collaborative work in the museum's permanent exhibition.
Eid-Sabbagh engages with the photographic collection, which has been conservatively packaged in specially created storage boxes since its digitisation. With the digital copies, the collection has gained virtual mobility, but its physical objects cannot currently be viewed by the public. The work questions the photographic archive itself and the impact it has.
In this context, the artist initiated a collective work with actors from Cologne's art and cultural scene who have taken different positions on this archive. The collective work negotiates questions about the ownership of the archive, about accessibility and how to deal with the sensitive and violent images as well as with the entire collection. The search and question for participatory solutions in dealing with the visual colonial heritage are central in this regard. This combines different voices and narratives that reflect on the handling of the sensitive photographic material in social, cultural and political contexts.


About the artist

Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh studied history, photography and visual anthropology in Paris. In 2018, she received her PhD from the Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. She has been a member of the Arab Image Foundation since 2008.
She combines research, conversational, visual and (meta-) archival practices to reflect on the agency of photographs in the field of collectivity and power. One of her long-term projects seeks to explore the impossibilities of representation through a process of negotiation around a potential digital archive compiled in collaboration with the residents of Burj al-Shamali, a Palestinian refugee camp near Tyr, Lebanon.