The Institute for Photography of Lille, place of exhibition and resources on the image created in 2017 by the Hauts-de-France region, has announced, Wednesday, June 16, that it would host the archives of three photographers. Among them, that of the artist Bettina Rheims, born in 1952, known for her work on female figures and her portraits of celebrities. She made a donation of all her work (prints, negatives, documents, ie 230,000 pieces) to the Institute.
The other two archives are temporary deposits: the collection of documentary photographer Jean-Louis Schoellkopf, born in 1946, who worked on industrial landscapes, entrusted to the Institute for twenty years, concerns his negatives and contact prints. The third is that of the filmmaker Agnès Varda, who died in 2019, who also had a job as a photographer, and whose beneficiaries have deposited, for twelve years, nearly 40,000 negatives and contact sheets – which remain to be inventoried.
“With these three very varied funds, we wanted to show the direction that the Institute wants to take, estimates the director Anne Lacoste, who plans, in the long term, to host about fifteen funds, silver or digital. This is a welcome on a case-by-case basis. “” Our idea is to start from the needs of photographers to create an institution and not the other way around “, adds the president of the Institute, Marin Karmitz.
The commercial management of the funds is left to the photographers, but the Institute is responsible for storing them, restoring them, digitizing them, distributing them on site and through an online database, as well as setting up exhibition projects. “These funds will become internal resources that will feed our image critical reading and education programs, research work and our exhibitions”, specifies Anne Lacoste. The In the future, the building will include a consultation room, a digitization room and a space for restoring photographs.
An exhibition in the fall
The question of archives, and in particular negatives, is a thorny problem for many photographers: they are expensive to keep, to digitize, have no material value, and are shunned by museums, which prefer to collect prints, considered as the original work.
Anne Lacoste does not seem embarrassed by the absence of prints in the two funds in deposit, emphasizing the public service mission of archival conservation. “There are works by Jean-Louis Schoellkopf in collections in the region that we can borrow. And what interests this photographer is first of all the dissemination of his work. We will be able to make prints from the negatives, with his agreement. For Agnès Varda, we will have privileged access to borrow the prints kept by the beneficiaries, and we can also make prints. But the urgency, for this fund, is the verification and the inventory. “
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