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Whither the vernacular?

Watch Geoffrey Batchen's keynote speech at our event 'Talks on everyday imaging – the analogue and digital realm of the vernacular'

Introduced into photographic discourse in about 2000, the term ‘vernacular photography’ has now become a commonplace. But is the term still a useful one? This paper will trace its history, looking at how non-artistic photographs have been incorporated into exhibitions and books devoted to photography during the past 25 years. What have been the effects of that incorporation? How has it shaped our understanding of photography? Through a consideration of these questions, I will argue that it is time for a reconsideration of this key term, and perhaps even for its abandonment.

Dr. Geoffrey Batchen is the Professor of History of Art at the University of Oxford. He recently curated two exhibitions for the Bodleian Library: A New Power: Photography in Britain 1800-1850 and Bright Sparks: Photography and the Talbot Archive. His books include Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (1997), Apparitions: Photography and Dissemination (2018), Negative/Positive: A history of photography (2021), The Forms of Nameless Things: Experimental photo- graphs by William Henry Fox Talbot (2022), and Inventing Photography: William Henry Fox Talbot in the Bodleian Library (2023).


Event Concept: Róza Tekla Szilágyi, Endre Cserna
Video: Zsuzsi Simon
Music: Áron Lörinczi
Design: L2 Studio

The lecture took place on November 2, 2023, in Budapest, Hungary.

You can find the original event description of 'Talks on everyday imaging – the analogue and digital realm of the vernacular' here.

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