Historian Eve Blau, photographer Richard Pare, and Phyllis Lambert discuss the roles of photography in historical research. As objects, photographs are notoriously subject to interpretation. They can be read as evidence for architectural thinking at a particular moment in history and instrumentalized to further a historical argument. At the same time, a photographer might be conscious that their work may be used in such a way by historians or perhaps journalists, politicians, or curators.
Presented as part of Greystone: Tools for Understanding the City, this series hosts conversations between photographers and historians around case studies of photography as historical research. It asks, what shapes the potential of “photographic missions” like Greystone to produce new knowledge?
Eve Blau is Adjunct Professor of the History and Theory of Urban Form and Design at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, and Co-Principal Investigator of the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative. She was curator of exhibitions and publications at the CCA and the editor of Architecture and Its Image: Four Centuries of Architectural Representation (1989), among many other books.
Richard Pare is a photographer best known for his long engagement and study of Russian avant-garde architecture, as well as monographs on Tadao Ando, Le Corbusier, and other figures. He was curator of the Seagram Photography Collection and founding curator of photography at the CCA. He is the editor of numerous books, including Photography and Architecture: 1839–1939 (1982) and The Lost Vanguard, Russian Modernist Architecture 1922–1932 (2007).