Helen Petrovsky, "Matter and Memory in Photography"
By dealing with memory images as opposed to the various representations of the past the paper introduces the notion of a new form of documentary photography – that which records a shared historical experience. Being "more” than representation proper, at least not coinciding with it, the image in question is constitutive not only of memory, but of the fleeting collective that becomes its bearer or "subject.” It is precisely the affective dimension of memory images that Soviet photographic series by Boris Mikhailov so subtly and yet so exactly convey. In speaking of a new documentary aspect of photography the paper draws on Walter Benjamin and his concept of the dialectical image. What is especially pertinent in this respect is the idea that the image "develops” (that is, comes into full view) at a certain historical juncture. In other words, the reading of memory images – i.e., the traces they leave in and across the representations that we accumulate in our archives – is determined by historical necessity itself.