Sara Callahan is an art historian specializing in modern and Contemporary art and visual culture. Her book Art + Archive: Understanding the Archival Turn in Contemporary Art was published in January 2022 by Manchester University Press in the series ‘Rethinking Art’s Histories’.

Sara Callahan currently works on a project, financed by the Swedish Research Council, that investigates how photographic motion studies from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century have been used in different contexts over time, and to what effect. In addition to her research, Sara Callahan has long-standing experience working in art galleries and museums in Stockholm and Seattle, and she has taught Art History and Curating at Stockholm University, where she also received her PhD.

Busy Bodies
Affiliated Project 2022-23

Busy Bodies centres on the afterlife of photographic and filmed motion studies produced by figures such as Eadweard Muybridge, Étienne-Jules Marey, Ottomar Anschütz, Albert Londe, and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth in the period stretching ca 1870s to 1920s. These images have more or less had a continuous presence in popular, vernacular, commercial, and artistic visual culture for well over a century, and have been reactivated — as direct or implicit references — in artworks, music videos, operas, poems, novels, films, knitting patters, quilts, dance performances, fashion shoots, environmentalist activist campaigns, in a scientific experiment, and much, much more.

Why and how do some images gain such persistance, and how do they continue to generate meaning in periods and contexts far from those in which they were first produced? Busy Bodies examines how a particular set of images are enlisted as interlocutors in very specific debates and discourses where aesthetics, technology, ideology, and theory intersect in complex ways since the 1880s until today.