From 11th April to 2nd June 2014, the Museum of Graphics in Pisa at Palazzo Lanfranchi hosted a great exhibition of early photography, entitled All Our Yesterdays (1839-1939), Life through the lens of Europe’s first photographers, organized by company Promoter and realized by the EU-funded project Europeana Photography.
During the All Our Yesterdays exhibition, all the visitors were invited to bring their own vintage family photos, to be digitized and included in a virtual collection.
The citizens’ feedback was enthusiastic and about 1,000 photos were provided for digitization. The digital images are preserved in the Promoter’s Digital Gallery to be re-used for cultural and dissemination purposes.
The photographic association Imago curated a selection of 80 of them, again displayed in the rooms of Palazzo Lanfranchi, on 6-14 December 2014. This is a truly crowdsourced exhibition, born thanks to the citizen of Pisa and near towns, who provided their vintage photos to be brought back to life through the digital technologies.
The opening of the exhibition was organized during the International Conference of RICHES project, hosted in the same venue on 4-5 December. A dedicated desk was also at disposal for the visitors to explore and enjoy the virtual exhibition of All Our Yesterdays (available at www.earlyphotography.eu and in AppStore).
Next to traditional shoots of individual and group portraits, in this selection we can discover other recurring themes: many bicycles and still a few horses, the most popular means of transport of the rich and the poor; the motorbike, proudly showed off as a symbol of progress; panoramas of Pisa and the Arno; celebrities visiting the city; the war in the north with snow and the war in the south in the African colonies; day-trips, early swimming suits, the hunt.
Early photography is considered cultural heritage to be preserved for the future generations (also thanks to the digital technologies), and re-used for teaching, for education, for historical and anthropological research. Next to the big archives which hold thousands and thousands of early photography items, a large part of this particular kind of cultural heritage is also widespread in the vintage photo-albums held in any family. Here we can find precious evidences of our grandfathers’ lifestyle, thanks to which we are able to retrace the memory of our territory.
As shown in this selection, family albums do not contain only the classic photos of weddings, holy communions and portraits. They often include other images showing aspects of life that we still can feel near from an emotional point of view, but which are irremediably far from a concrete point of view: poetic, dramatic, unusual, exotic, humoristic, and in any case always interesting and fascinating.