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Living Photography: Finding Film History in the Archive

Exhibit Introduction

The William L. Clements Library contains precious documentation of the prehistory and early history of motion pictures. Twenty-three students enrolled in Matthew Solomon’s Winter 2024 section of FTVM 352 (Film History: Origins to the New Wave) were tasked with exploring these collections and creating this exhibition, which also serves as the capstone assignment for the course. This is the second installment of a continuing collaboration that began with two former Rackham doctoral fellows and a Winter 2023 class visit, which for many students was their first tangible experience with an archival collection. The exhibit aims to creatively expand accessibility when encountering archival materials in spaces like the Avenir Foundation Reading Room. Students in the Department of Film, Television, and Media were uniquely positioned and motivated to create five short audiovisual essays which allow another way of experiencing the exhibition through the QR codes on each case. Produced by a class dedicated to “hands-on” approaches to film history, we hope that visitors feel encouraged to watch, listen, touch facsimiles, move at a comfortable pace, pause, and revisit in whatever way makes the exhibit come most alive for you.


Curated By: Dr. Matthew Solomon, Maggie Vanderford, and Julie Fremuth, with the students of FTVM 352 at the William L. Clements Library