Elena Skarke

I am an art and photo historian based in Berlin, Germany. Currently, I hold a postdoctoral position at the Department of Architecture and Art History at the Technical University Darmstadt. I coordinate the Glasdiaprojekt Kunstgeschichte (Glass Slide Project), in which we are cataloging, digitizing, and researching the extensive collections of approx. 60.000 glass slides. In my Ph.D. thesis “Clicking with Color”: Saul Leiter's Slides, c. 1948-1970, which I am currently preparing for publication, I focus on the early non-commercial color photographs by the artist Saul Leiter from the 1940s through the 1960s. I am the first scholar to examine the artist's original color slides at the Saul Leiter Foundation, which is based in Leiter's former studio in New York City. My dissertation was funded by a scholarship awarded by the Studienwerk Villigst between 2018 and 2021. From 2016 until 2018, I was an associate member of the Ph.D. program The Photographic Dispositif at Braunschweig University of Art. My Ph.D. research on Saul Leiter's color slides contributed to the comprehensive exhibition Forever Saul Leiter, in which a selection of recently discovered color slides was projected in a specially designed room. The show was on view at Bunkamura Museum in Tokyo (JP) in 2020. A collection of color slide images is featured in the accompanying catalog. From 2014 until 2021, I worked as a gallery assistant and research associate at Kicken Berlin, an internationally renowned fine art gallery specializing in photography. My primary areas of research interest include the history, theory, materiality, and preservation of photography, along with its presentation and communication in exhibitions. I am particularly fascinated by the aesthetics and techniques of 20th-century photography, color photography, art movements in mid-century America, as well as the medium of the (color) slide and its organization and preservation in both artistic and institutional archives.


Publications / Talks & Lectures

(interview) Farbdias von Saul Leiter, Interview by Claudia Kursawe, in: Photonews, 3/24, p. 4.

(publication) A Train Ride Across New York — All aboard!, in: ReVue—Magazin für Fotografie und Wahrnehmung (online), Nov 24, 2024 (German Version: Fahrt durch New York — Einsteigen, bitte!).

(lecture & exhibition) Architektur, Fotografie, und die Glasdiasammlung des Fachgebiets Architektur- und Kunstgeschichte, Winter Semester 2023/24, Department of Architecture and Art History, TU Darmstadt; Glasdias im neuen Licht. Das vergessene Archiv des FB15, Exhibition with students in the architecture building of TU Darmstadt, Feb 2—8, 2024.

(talk) 01-1-000001 — 02-6-010000. Ein Zwischenbericht zur Aufarbeitung der Glasdiasammlung des FG AUK, 10. Tag der Forschung am Fachbereich Architektur, TU Darmstadt, Dec 6, 2023.

(publication) The World is in Color. William Eggleston and American Color Photography in the 1970s, in: C/O Berlin Newspaper #33, 2023, p. 13—19, (published on the occasion of the exhibition William Eggleston. Mystery of the Ordinary (Jan 28—May 4, 2023).

(interview) in The Unseen Saul Leiter, ed. by Margit Erb and Michael Parillo, London: Thames & Hudson, 2022.

(talk) A Walk Through the Streets of Harlem. James Baldwin's Essay “Fifths Avenue, Uptown” and Saul Leiter's Color Photography in Esquire, July 1960, 12th Research Colloquium Theory and History of Photography, Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, Prof. Dr. Steffen Siegel, Jul 16, 2021 (online).

(talk) AMERICAN COLOR. The Slide as Medium of Artistic Practice in Saul Leiter's work, 1948—1970, 10th Research Colloquium Theory and History of Photography, Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, Prof. Dr. Steffen Siegel, Jul 16, 2020 (online).

(publication) Window on the World (of Art). Saul Leiter's Color Photography, in: Katja Böhlau and Elisabeth Pichler, Filters + Frames. Developing Meaning in Photography and Beyond, Weimar: Jonas Verlag 2019, p. 96—99.

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