Part 4: Discarded: Joachim Schmid and the Anti-Museum

In Part 4 of The Invisible Photograph, learn how Berlin-based artist Joachim Schmid's "anti-museum" of found and discarded imagery challenges us to reconsider our assumptions of photographic worth.

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Photography as Urban Archaeology: The Practice of Joachim Schmid

“I am an artist because there is no other description for what I do.”

These are the surprisingly telling words of Joachim Schmid, a Berlin-based artist who has spent more than 30 years of his career working with found photographs. The majority of his projects have involved gathering and re-presenting photographs—both print and digital—taken by the anonymous public. Oftentimes intentionally discarded by their creators, Schmid’s source materials would, but for him, disappear into the physical or virtual trash heap. Instead, Schmid’s “anti-museum” of forgotten, lost, and disused photographs, challenges us to reconsider not only our assumptions of photographic worth, but also how photography and collecting function as cultural practices.

The former photo critic-turned-artist describes his work as alternately curatorial and editorial, and it is oftentimes difficult to discern where editorial selection ends and creative representation begins. But in truth, his artistic approach is evident from the…