Call for Submissions Issue #3

Mapping Meaning: Archives and Photography


About Mapping Meaning, the Journal

In a strongly fragmented and disciplined-based world, Mapping Meaning offers a collective space to imagine, create, and propose new models in the face of radical global change and ecological and social crises. Each issue takes up a particular theme and is edited by different curatorial teams from a variety of disciplines. Published two times per year, all issues include the broadest possible calls for submission; gathering together divergent and experimental knowledge practices.

Read past issues here:

Call for Submissions Issue #3

Mapping Meaning: Archives and Photography

Editors: Nat Castañeda, Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, Trudi Lynn Smith

In 2017, the editors of this edition (#3) came together with a shared interest in photography and archives. We spent time together at the AP (Associated Press) archives in lower Manhattan, NYC. As we looked through and handled a selection of photographic materials, housed in yellowed manila envelopes  -- the very negatives, slides, and photographs and typed and cursive captions that set standards for national and international news over 100 years-- we became acutely aware of the materiality of photographic archives. The AP archives highlighted for us tensions between archives as institutional structures and grassroots counter archives. At the same time, working in analogue archives became a generative place to ask questions about the materiality of public and private archives in the digital age.


Building on our time together in the AP archive, in conversations that have taken place in the flesh and conversations that have transpired digitally, we have generated four themes of inquiry that we outline below. We invite submissions to the journal that intersect with the themes and questions:

  1. Archival endings/beginnings: What do photographic archives remember? What do they forget, for whom and for what purpose? Despite the ideological ambition of archives -- to save and form a truthful collective memory, we ask, how do archives lie? How can art and science confuse and jostle the archive’s relationship to empirical order, power, and control over the historical record? And once the confusion sets in, what counter-archives emerge?

  2. The materiality of the archive and its impermanence: How are archives sites of resistance and of possibility? As ideas about the archive as a static repository of a history are challenged, and as archives are unsettled, how do photographic archives emerge as ‘un-archival’ or anarchival? While much attention rests on the idea of saving, conservation and order, how does the archive also house disorder, doubt, waste, loss, and impossibility? Against the ideological intents of archives, in what ways do archives reveal unexpected and disorienting energies, including feelings of surprise and delight?

  3. Counterculture and family archives: Archives often record history and are housed or at least connected to an institution. What about the idiosyncratic archive? The photographs we create and collect in our daily lives and the family photographs that chronicle personal histories are also archives. How do these intersect with institutional archives? How does the personal archive intersect with the institutional one? What of archives that are created by volunteer labour, and collected and stored through the work of love?

  4. Tensions between the analogue and the digital: How does the transformation of analogue material into digital material change the meanings and uses of photographic archives? If the archive is traditionally a storehouse of ‘dust’ (Steedman 2002) and associated sensory experiences (like sneezing), then how does the digital archive work the senses differently? With rapid changes in digital storage media and formats, migrating archives has led to new problems of archival loss. How do new archiving practices of migration and preservation challenge and change illusions of permanence within the archive? As the growing archives of machines and for machines (surveillance footage, google street view, image searches) change analogue practices of archives, how do new forms of control, surveillance, trauma, manipulation and agency emerge and accumulate into the housing and organization of the photographic record?

  5. Other conceptualizations that respond, react, counteract the history and future of the archive...

This is an open call. We invite submissions of artworks, essays and creative writing.

Submission deadline: February 15, 2019

Notification of acceptance: March 15, 2019

Please send submissions to