Facing Black Star: Book Launch and Panel Discussion

Front and back covers of Facing Black Star, co-published by the IMC and MIT Press, 2023

Facing Black Star: Book Launch and Panel Discussion

Monday, October 16, 2023
6–8:30 pm

Hybrid Presentation
In-person at The Image Centre (IMC), 33 Gould St., Toronto
Online via Zoom — Register for Zoom event

Join moderator Elspeth Brown, editors Thierry Gervais and Vincent Lavoie, and contributors Bénédicte Ramade and Reilley Bishop-Stall, for a panel discussion about Facing Black Star, the sixth installment in the IMC Books series, co-published with MIT Press. Bringing together local, national, and international researchers, Facing Black Star illuminates the staggering range of The Image Centre’s Black Star Collection and explores the expectations, challenges, and results of a decade of research in a key photo agency’s print archive.

6–7 pm — Meet the speakers, book signing, visit IMC exhibitions
7–8:30 pm — Panel talk and Q&A

No registration required for in-person event. Seating is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Left: Robert Lebeck, Young man steals the sword of King Baudouin I, during procession with newly appointed President Kasavubu, Leopoldville, Republic of the Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), June 30, 1960, gelatin silver print. The Image Centre, Gift of Robert Lebeck, 2012; Right: Ralph Crane, Student Trip, California, 1949, gelatin silver print. The Black Star Collection, The Image Centre

About the Speakers

Reilley Bishop-Stall, PhD, is a settler-Canadian art historian whose research centres on Indigenous and settler representational histories, with specific focus on historical and contemporary photography and anti-colonial and activist art. Dr. Bishop-Stall is Assistant Professor of Canadian Art and Visual Culture in the Department of Art History at McGill University, Montreal.

Elspeth H. Brown is Professor of History at the University of Toronto. Her research concerns queer and trans history; the history and theory of photography; the history of US capitalism; and oral history. She is the author of Work! A Queer History of Modeling (Duke, 2019) and The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884-1929 (2005). She is the Director of the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory, and Faculty Lead for the Critical Digital Humanities Initiative. Professor Brown is an active volunteer and former President of the Board for The ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives.

Thierry Gervais is an associate professor at Toronto Metropolitan University and head of research at The Image Centre, Toronto. He was the editor-in-chief of Études photographiques from 2007 to 2013 and is the author of numerous articles on photojournalism in peer-reviewed journals and scholarly publications. He is the author (with Gaëlle Morel) of The Making of Visual News. A History of Photography in the Press (Bloomsbury, 2017) and the editor of The “Public” Life of Photographs (2016), the first volume of the academic IMC Books series, published in partnership with MIT Press. His current research focuses on retouched press photographs.

Vincent Lavoie is a professor in the Department of Art History, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), and a member of the university’s Figura research centre. He is the author of Photojournalismes: Revoir les canons de l’image de presse (Paris: Hazan, 2010); L’affaire Capa: Le procès d’une icône (Paris: Textuel, 2017) and the editor of La preuve par l’image (Québec: Presses de l’Université du Québec, 2017). He is the principal investigator of a SSHRC-funded research team dedicated to studying the visualities of animal welfare and a member of the SSHRC-funded international and interdisciplinary research group Archiver le present.

Bénédicte Ramade is an art historian, critic, and independent curator specializing in environmental issues. Since 2016 she has focused on the growing entanglement of knowledge and artworks with/in the Anthropocene and has developed research on animal points of view and botanical agency. Vers un art anthropocène: L’art écologique américain pour prototype, her monograph published in 2022 by Les Presses du réel, updates her doctoral dissertation about ecological art from an Anthropocene perspective.

Marianne Le Galliard, 2019 Nadir Mohamed Fellow, in the Peter Higdon Research Centre, The Image Centre, Toronto © Rachel Verbin, The Image Centre

About Facing Black Star

In 2005, Toronto Metropolitan (formerly Ryerson) University (TMU) acquired the massive Black Star Collection from the photo agency previously based in New York City—nearly 292,000 black-and-white prints. Preserved at The Image Centre at TMU, the images include iconic stills of the American Civil Rights movement by Charles Moore, among thousands of ordinary photographs that were classified by theme in the agency’s picture library. While the move of the collection from a corporate photo agency to a public cultural institution enables more access, researchers must still face the size of the collection, its structural organization, the materiality of the prints, and the lack of ephemera. Facing Black Star aims to fruitfully highlight this tension between research expectations and challenges.

Coeditors Thierry Gervais and Vincent Lavoie have gathered local, national, and international researchers ranging from graduate students to established scholars and curators to illuminate the staggering range of the collection, from its disquieting record of the Nazis’ rise to power to its visual archive of climate change. Each contribution highlights methodological, epistemological, and political issues inherent to conducting research in photographic archives and collections, such as indexing protocols and their impact on research, the photographic archive as a place of visibility and invisibility, and the photographic archive as a hermeneutic tool.

Shedding new light on current issues in the theory and history of photography, this impressive volume containing 100 images not only discusses the subjects portrayed in the photographs but also addresses the history of photojournalism, the role of such a photographic archive in our Western societies, and ultimately photography as a medium.

About the IMC Books Series

In October 2016, The Image Centre (IMC) began the publication of an academic book series in partnership with the MIT Press. The IMC Books series aims to disseminate inquiries into histories, practices and reception of images in general, and photographs, in particular. The series is comprised of three streams: Critical Ideas gathers articles from different scholars about a concept or a question of interest in the field; Essentials translates fundamental texts published in other languages into English, or proposes critical editions of seminal books/texts about photography; and Collections and Archives provides a point of view on an artist/photographer or organization whose collection is housed at The Image Centre.

The Image Centre
33 Gould Street
Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W1

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Wednesday: 12–8 pm
Thursday–Saturday: 12–6 pm

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Tuesday: By appointment
Wednesday–Friday: Drop-in, 1:30 pm

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