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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Other People’s Stories: Bringing Public-Generated Photography into the Contemporary Art Museum

Moschovi, Alexandra and Galani, Areti (2013) Other People’s Stories: Bringing Public-Generated Photography into the Contemporary Art Museum. Museum and Society, 11 (2). pp. 172-184. ISSN 1479-8360

Item Type: Article


Constituting the ‘defining other’ of art photography, amateur photographic
practices have long been neglected or specifically excluded from official histories of photography. Even the term ‘amateur’ has historically been characterized by semantic ambiguity. In recent years, however, contemporary amateur photographs have been capturing the art curatorial imagination. This is often motivated by the institutional and political impetus to engage with personal, local stories, rather than official, national narratives alone. Amateur photographs, with their apparent rawness and immediacy may afford the art museum with a more credible record of ‘real life’ and enable the display of polyvocal narratives. Furthermore, the changing digital media landscape has opened up opportunities for art museums to reach new audiences through public-contributed content. In response to these developments, this article asks: How has amateur photography acquired a protagonist role in contemporary art museum displays? Drawing on contrasting case studies of exhibitions in the US and Europe, which have incorporated user contributed
photographic content in their displays, this article discusses how
everyday photographic creativity and the raw materials of people’s stories serve as a means to interact with institutionally constructed histories of photography.

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Additional Information: Parts of this research have been disseminated as: i) Alexandra Moschovi and Areti Galani (authors), “A Democracy of Images? The Accommodation/Assimilation of Amateur Imagery in the Museum,” in Private Eyes: Amateur Photography and Collective History, University of Copenhagen and The Danish Council for Independent Research in Humanities, Copenhagen, Denmark (November 2009), programme available at ii) Alexandra Moschovi and Areti Galani (authors), “Trans/forming Museum Narratives: The Accommodation of Photography 2.0 in Contemporary Exhibitions”, co-author A. Galani in Transforming Culture in the Digital Age, Tartu: the Estonian National Museum, the Estonian Literary Museum and Tartu University (April 2010), papers available in pdf format at and conference programme publication. iii) Alexandra Moschovi and Areti Galani (convenors), “‘Your Photographs on our Walls’: Public- Generated Photography in Art Exhibitions”, 38th Association of Art Historians conference, Open University, Milton Keynes, 2012. AAH Bulletin iv) Alexandra Moschovi, “The Ubiquitous Image: The Novel Cult Value of Public-generated Snaps in the ecosystem of Web 2.0” in Beyond Representation: Photography, Humans & Computers, Centre for Media & Culture Research, London South Bank University in association with the journal Philosophy of Photography, 24—25 May 2012. (Part of the AHRC-funded networking project "The application of non-representational theories to the digitally produced and circulated photographic image", London South Bank University). v) Alexandra Moschovi and Areti Galani. “Other People’s (Hi)stories: Bringing Public-Generated Photography into the Contemporary Museum.” In Photography, History, Difference, ed. T. Sheehan. New England: UPNE, 2014 (8,212w).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Digital culture, Web 2.0, social networking media, cultural heritage, museum narratives, cultures of display, participatory curatorial practices, public engagement, crowd sourcing, public-generated content, vernacular photography, prosumer.
Depositing User: Alexandra Moschovi


Item ID: 4530
ISSN: 1479-8360
Official URL:

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ORCID for Alexandra Moschovi: ORCID iD

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Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2013 16:04
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2019 15:36