A modern gaze on old cultural practices in Argentina: relocation and preservation of the 'Heinrich Sanguinetti Archive' (1930-1956) (EAP755)

Aims and objectives

In Argentina, there is no organised and articulated policy regarding the conservation of photographic archives, either public or private ones. Many relevant visual archives are undergoing difficulties, if not total loss, because of the negligence of those responsible for their care. In this sense, the “Heinrich Sanguinetti Archive” is an example of an archive at risk - the physical conditions in which this archive stands (inappropriate storage, humidity and heat conditions, and the invisibility of this collection to the public) are factors that make it endangered.

This is an invaluable reservoir of more than 100,000 images, mostly unpublished, that in many cases reveal initial contacts and gazes over territories, species, human groups, and cultural practices of vast regions of the interior of this country developed by these photographers, most of them German that had emigrated to Argentina after the First World War or at the start of the Second World War. Within them, the “Annemarie Heinrich” archive holds more than 5,000 of her own photographs that show a pre-industrial culture regarding the images of native peoples of the region, in an action understood, by that time, as the registry of the traces of Argentine "ancestors", eg: her trips around Latin America, specifically Argentina, registering the human intervention on landscape (either Mapuche communities or the creole pre-industrial settlement), religious and cultural celebrations within Latin American indigenous and “mestizo” communities, etc. The photographic items include glass plates, celluloid negatives and vintage printed copies in diverse conservation conditions: fungal attacks, acid emanations, and cracked papers.

Surveying and organising the “Heinrich Sanguinetti Archive”, and the cataloguing, digitising and research of the “Annemarie Heinrich Archive”, will contribute to our knowledge on the way these photographers who worked in Latin America in the 1930’s and 1950’s created a visual repertoire by focusing on pre-industrial issues such as anthropological, ethnographic, botanic, and geographic records. The presence of a technical and material magazine and newspaper archive these repositories also hold will definitely help in this aim. A specialised team of young professionals will be created, who will be trained in photographic scanning and conservation work.

All this work will contribute to opening this important reservoir to the public and to developing future research and new boundaries of knowledge. The access to a digital version of this huge group of images through such a relevant repository as the British Library in London will definitely multiply the possibility of its circulation throughout the world and allow new visions on other cultural horizons.


Blog: EAP755: Annmarie Heinrich Photograph Collection, 26 November 2015

The records copied by this project have been catalogued as: