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Making Photography Speak: John Max’s Open Passport (1973) and Photographic Narration


Making Photography Speak: John Max’s Open Passport (1973) and Photographic Narration

Hardy-Vallée, Michel ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9652-1262 (2019) Making Photography Speak: John Max’s Open Passport (1973) and Photographic Narration. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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In this dissertation, I present a detailed case study of the photographic book Open Passport (1973), by Canadian photographer John Max (1936–2011), on the basis of primary and secondary sources, including newly discovered materials. The photographic book has recently emerged as an axis to organize photographic history. Max’s book, an iconic object in Canadian photography history, nevertheless raises significant challenges to disciplinary consensus. Open Passport is an exemplary work of variant performance that demonstrates the interdependence of different modes of photographic dissemination. It offers a major test case for notions of photographic meaning, artwork, medium, and history. Performing a series of analyses—semiotic, philosophical, and historical—on Open Passport, I show how books are important sites of photographic meaning, with qualifications. Including a constellation of variants and related works—such as photo-stories, exhibitions, motion pictures, and slide shows—the relevant art historical context of Open Passport upsets the modernist historiography of an autonomous medium favoured by recent studies of the photobook. I also draw attention to the historicity of knowledge and propose an application of philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer’s notion of fusion of horizons for understanding Open Passport in context as a belonging. The major contributions to knowledge of this dissertation are a renewed and extensive understanding of the work of John Max as a major artist, a more deeply reasoned study of the place of the photographic book within photographic history, as well as methodological innovations in the study of the photographic sequence.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Hardy-Vallée, Michel
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Art History
Date:11 June 2019
Thesis Supervisor(s):Langford, Martha
Keywords:History of photography, John Max, Open Passport, photographic sequence, photobook, photographic book, variants, slide show, exhibitions, fiction, narration, performance, historiography, Canadian photography, hermeneutics, art history, Montréal
ID Code:985514
Deposited On:30 Jun 2021 14:57
Last Modified:26 Jun 2023 12:28
Additional Information:Also contains analysis of John Max's other major works and exhibitions, a curriculum of the artist, and captions to Open Passport.
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