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Looking through ruin : Canadian photography at Ypres and the archive of war

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dc.contributor.author Alexandre, David
dc.date.accessioned 2009-10-30T23:03:50Z
dc.date.available 2009-10-30T23:03:50Z
dc.date.copyright 2003 en
dc.date.issued 2009-10-30T23:03:50Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2429/14446
dc.description.abstract This thesis examines the relationship between the photographic archive of the First World War and Canadian war memory through an analysis of the production of photographs depicting the ruins of Ypres, Belgium and their postwar appropriation. Taken by official photographers in the employment of the Canadian War Records Office, the photographs were intended to act as both historical documents and, paradoxically, as publicity and propaganda images. Both functions of the photographs work to construct a unified image of the war and are similarly characterized by a repressive structure. Ypres, almost entirely destroyed during the war, was both the site of Canada's first battle and major victory as well as a contentious site connoting military mismanagement and wasteful loss of life. Resultantly, representations of the city's ruins are suggestive of a corresponding shift from a mythic to a horrific war in First World War historiography that took place in the decades proceeding it. Images of Ypres' ruins were filtered through both material censorship enforced by the military to elicit high morale and psychic censorship. Photographers made mechanized war conform to their visual expectations. However, the repressive structure literally contains that which it represses as an uncanny double and invariably allows for the possibility of its return. I argue that the anodyne and conventionalized image generated by official photographs of ruins also contains and signifies the destructive violence of modern warfare. Finally, I examine the construction of these conflicting narratives as they develop around the simultaneous processes of archivization and circulation ever-widening circles of mnemonic constructs such as postcards and tourist brochures at the same time that they were being archived. I argue that rather than contaminating and damaging the archival meaning of the photographs, the archive is an accumulative institution capable of incorporating a variety of conflicting narratives without ruining its authority. en
dc.format.extent 13027408 bytes
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso eng en
dc.relation.ispartofseries UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
dc.subject War photography -- Belgium -- Ieper en
dc.subject World War, 1914-1918 -- Campaigns -- Belgium -- Ieper en
dc.subject World War, 1914-1918 -- Photography en
dc.subject World War, 1914-1918 -- Art and the war en
dc.subject World War, 1914-1918 -- Propaganda en
dc.subject World War, 1914-1918 -- Public opinion en
dc.subject Ieper (Belgium) -- History, Military en
dc.title Looking through ruin : Canadian photography at Ypres and the archive of war en
dc.type Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
dc.degree.name Master of Arts - MA en
dc.degree.discipline Art History (Critical Curatorial Studies) en
dc.degree.grantor University of British Columbia
dc.date.graduation 2003-11 en
dc.degree.campus UBCV en


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