“NOT IMPORTANT” : an analysis of the Tibet photo service medium format negatives at the Tibet Museum
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 14:53 by Lodoe-Laura Haines-Wangda
This thesis approaches a body of 1,428 6x6 cm gelatin silver acetate negatives in the Tibet Museum’s photographic archives in Dharamsala, India. This material, labelled “not important” by an archivist at their collecting institution, contains images of the Tibetan community in exile, made by the Tibet Photo Service (TPS) studio between 1962 and 1987. The practical component of this project involves arranging and rehousing the negatives for accessibility and preservation purposes. The theoretical component of this project provides a contextual framework for the TPS medium format negatives, unpacking the reasons behind their exclusion from care and display. Additionally, it engages the negatives as sites of “articulation and aspiration” of the Tibetan exile community. The objects and their images are recontextualized from material that is “not important” to social and political documents that serve as a subjective historical record of the foundational years of the Tibetan community in India.