Encounters in an Archive

Objects of Migration, Photo-Objects of Art History

An installation by Massimo Ricciardo and the Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence, 2018

 

Remnant of lifejacket
Provenance: Portopalo di Capo Passero
Date of arrival: 25/06/2007
Note: the boat was transporting 33/38 immigrants

Shelves of the Renaissance Sculpture section in the Photothek
Location: Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai, Florence
Display date: January 2010
Note: the Photothek was previously located in the main site of the
Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut

 

Objects of Escape – Inventories of Migration is a joint art project by Massimo Ricciardo and Thomas Kilpper. When refugee boats from Africa or the Middle East land on the European coast or when they need to be rescued on the high seas, many objects remain on the boats. These items have very different characteristics, ranging from everyday objects such as water bottles and mobile phones up to very personal things, such as photo albums and diaries. The project tries to collect these objects and to show them to the public. The unique objects are charged through the context and the place of their discovery: They have been silent witnesses of life-threatening crossings. The fact that only the most necessary things can be taken on to the cramped boats, made a decision and consideration preceding: “what to take”, an imagination “what is to come?”. For the refugees these particular objects were (or still are) of great importance to ensure their survival.

The recently initiated collection Objects of Escape – Inventories of Migration is to be seen as part of the contemporary cultural heritage. A present marked by a new dimension of globalized economy and elites but at the same time by the mass phenomenon of migration and escape. The phenomenon of migration is living within the collected objects – in their entirety they carry the treasure of an enormous will to survive. The project wants to secure this potential and make it visible. It wants to promote the development and cultural work with the collection in various directions: as open and available to the public as possible.

Massimo Ricciardo brought a selection of these objects to Florence, among them some photographs, to the Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz. In the spaces of the Photothek a dialogue between the objects of the migrant people and the structures and holdings of an art historical documentary photo archive started.

Curated by Costanza Caraffa and Almut Goldhahn.

© Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, Photographer: Marco Rabatti

 

Plastic bag containing earth (of homeland)
Provenance: Portopalo di Capo Passero
Date of arrival: 12/09/2007
Note: the boat was transporting 28 Eritrean and Ethiopian
immigrants (25 men and 3 women)

Photograph of a plaster-cast of victim of the eruption at Pompeii
Provenance: unknown
Date of inventorying in Photothek: 28/10/1982
Note: photograph taken by the Brogi photographic studio at the Museum in Pompeii in 1879/80

Hand-drawn map wrapped in cellophane with various travel notes
Provenance: Portopalo di Capo Passero
Date of arrival: 12/09/2007
Note: the boat was transporting 28 Eritrean and Ethiopian immigrants (25 men and 3 women)

Printed reproduction of portolan (navigation manual)
Provenance: unknown
Date of inventorying in Photothek: 17/06/1942
Note: the portolan reproduced here forms part of one of the first
atlases of the Mediterranean, issued in Venice in c. 1488

Map of the Mediterranean with various travel annotations
Provenance: Portopalo di Capo Passero
Date of arrival: 12/10/2007
Note: the route is traced in pencil on the map

Photographic reproduction of map of the Kingdom of Sicily
Provenance: KHI photographer
Date of inventorying in Photothek: 15/07/1974
Note: the original map is preserved in the Photothek

American dollar
Provenance: Syracuse
Date of arrival: unknown
Note: the boat was transporting 51 Egyptian citizens, all male

Topographical card catalogue of the Photothek, Painting section
Location: Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai, Florence
Display date: January 2010
Note: the card catalogue is still a tool in the daily work of the
Photothek, complementing the digital database catalogue

Personal diary of a migrant
Provenance: Portopalo di Capo Passero
Date of arrival: unknown
Note: the boat was transporting 28 Eritrean and Ethiopian immigrants (25 men and 3 women)

Recto of Photothek card mount with collodion print reproducing
Andrea Previtali’s John the Baptist
Provenance: Gustav Ludwig bequest
Date of inventorying in Photothek: 1907–11
Note: the card mount bears the stamp of the Ludwig bequest

Eight colour photographs (15 x 10 cm)
Provenance: unknown
Date of arrival: 25/06/2007
Note: the boat was transporting 33/38 immigrants

Card mount with traces of detached images
Provenance: unknown
Date of inventorying in Photothek: 14/01/1933
Note: the card mount bears traces of glue and the original captions; it was found in the box “Fehlende Fotos” (missing photographs)

 

Bible and Koran
Provenance: Portopalo di Capo Passero
Date of arrival: 16/06/2007
Note: the boat was transporting 28 immigrants

Photograph of interior of Santa Sofia, Istanbul
Provenance: Joseph Croquison donation
Date of inventorying in Photothek: 23/11/1967
Note: the photograph was taken around 1870 and forms part of the “Cimelia Photographica” collection

Installation view
Objects of Migration, Photo-Objects of Art History: Encounters in an Archive, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, 21 June 2018