Walls without museums: anonymous history, collective authorship and the document

Highmore, Ben (2007) Walls without museums: anonymous history, collective authorship and the document. Visual Culture in Britain, 8 (2). pp. 1-20. ISSN 1471-4787

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Abstract

This article sets out to establish some of the genealogical and conceptual terms for recognizing the importance of the document within various strands of British visual culture. I argue that a practice of 'anonymous history' - a term taken from Siegfried Giedion but understood as having a more extensive provenance - can be seen as a crucial ingredient in the very different work of those involved in the exhibition 'Parallel of Art and Life' (Nigel Henderson, Eduardo Paolozzi, Alison and Peter Smithson) and Mass-Observation. 'Anonymous history' is a practice of collecting and perceiving the world that starts out from the 'disdained everyday field' and assumes no inherent hierarchy to the object world. The particular relationship that photography has to this practice is explored through the responses to the 'Parallel of Art and Life' exhibition. Alongside 'anonymous history', I suggest that those involved in documenting practices necessarily had to negotiate a particular author function that might inoculate the work against being perceived as an 'artwork'. While the practices of documenting might have radically democratic intentions, I also maintain that there are a number of critical problems involved in such practices.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Depositing User: Ben Highmore
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:48
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2012 14:58
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28251
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