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Reading, writing and curating photographs

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Friday 1 November 2013, 10-4pm

This masterclass offers selected university students the opportunity to cultivate a deeper understanding of photographic history and methods of display through a series of workshops with conservators, curators and art historians.

In semester 2, 2013, the masterclass will focus on the exhibition Joy before the object and issues surrounding the apparent objectivity of photographic representation. The day includes a behind-the-scenes workshop in the conservation laboratory studying and identifying different types of photographs, a workshop on the history and theory of photographic representation in the Gallery’s study room, and question-and-answer sessions with Gallery curators.

At the completion of the masterclass, participants will be required to write a 250-word analysis of a photograph in the collection. This piece of writing will be read by Gallery staff and returned with feedback, and a selection of final edited texts may be published on the Gallery website.


Session one: what is photography?

  • Introduction to the photography collection
  • History and theory of photographic representation
  • Identifying and conserving photographs

Lunch (provided)

Session two: the photograph as object and image

  • Analysis of Joy before the object
  • Objectivity and objecthood in photographic representation
  • Curating photographs: a Q&A session


Staff from the Gallery who will be presenting are:

  • Georgina Cole, art historian and coordinator, photography programs
  • Judy Annear, senior curator, photographs
  • Eleanor Weber, assistant curator, photographs
  • Carolyn Murphy, acting head of conservation
  • Analiese Treacy, paper conservator



Copies will be supplied to successful applicants

  • Albert Renger-Patzsch, 'Joy before the object’, 1928
  • Susan Sontag, On photography, Penguin, London, 1979, pp 3-24
  • Geoff Batchen, 'An almost unlimited variety: photography and sculpture in the 19th century’ in Roxana Marcoci (ed), The original copy: photography of sculpture 1839 to today, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2010


How to apply

To be eligible, you must demonstrate a strong academic and professional interest in researching and writing about photographs and be enrolled in a higher degree at a NSW tertiary institution.

To apply, please send the following to Georgina Cole at

  • 200-300 words explaining your academic interest in photography, and how the masterclass would benefit your studies
  • curriculum vitae
  • one written academic reference in support of your application

Applications close 9 October 2013