Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-9-2017


This dissertation examines how the photograph can exceed the long-rooted debate around medium specific notions of photographic truth, since all realisms are historical and constantly changing. Applying theories of socially constructed space and porous time to analysis of these case studies presents alternative photographic histories that show past and present together. Boris Mikhailov, as a dissident artist and post-Soviet documentarian of new Russian capitalism, presents histories of visual culture that compete and overlap during the Soviet era and afterward. Mikhailov refers to the multiplicity of voices found in his photographic practice as a state of “coexistence.” Looking at photographs of Chicago public housing projects in the media and documenting their destruction using a theoretical understanding of urban space as produced by social relations presents a different history than the official one put forth by the city, one that is more community focused. Stacy Krantiz’s disturbing documentary history depicts her infiltrating a reenactment group centered on celebrating the SS. Krantiz, as an outsider and a Jew, relives a historical danger of existing among American white supremacists who claim to be working in the name of “pure history.” Finally, in exchanges between the Lakota people and representatives of the government at the massacre of Wounded Knee, the AIM’s occupation of the site in 1973, and the Big Foot Memorial ride, both the Lakota and the US government battled to inscribe their own versions of history. The photographs discussed in the four case studies dispel binary relationships such as true and false, authentic and inauthentic, as conditions of the document. Instead they use the concept of narrativity and its subjective qualities, the fluctuations of memory and methods of remembrance, and ever-changing framing of the past by historical context to question the documentary as referencing one static moment in time, one version of history, one set of evidentiary conclusions. In their presentation of narrativity, these photographic series go beyond notions of a singular narrator, whether that narrator is the artist, an invented external voice, the subjective viewer, or the dominant voice of history, revealing a tendency toward a heteroglot and cross-temporal exchange between soldiers of the past and reenactors of the present, economic and political systems, the state, its colonial subjects and its citizens.



Document Type


Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Kirsten Buick

Second Committee Member

Kevin Mulhearn

Third Committee Member

Christopher Mead

Fourth Committee Member

Paul Jaskot

Fifth Committee Member

Matthew Jesse Jackson


photography, documentary, reenactment, Boris Mikhailov, David Schalliol, Chicago