Closing thoughts on my time as a Fellow at ICI
5/13 marks my final day as an Editorial Fellow at the Institute.
When I first started looking into the ICI as an undergrad, I read that LA Weekly listed is as, “the best place to figure some shit out.” This dictum has stuck with me for whatever reason, and I’m inclined to revisit it as my days with the ICI are rapidly coming to a close.
I had originally wanted to intern at the ICI at the end of my undergrad degree having had a particularly busy year, I never got the chance to. While living in the UK for grad school, I continued to periodically check up on the Institute and see what was going on and remained interested in my lost opportunity, so I was grateful for the opportunity to intern as a Fellow upon returning to the States. Having written about photography for my undergraduate thesis and WG Sebald for grad school, it seemed like a natural fit.
I’ve done a bunch of different research during my time here, almost entirely on Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida. Some of the research has been conventional, some of it marginal, and some of it downright eccentric. The circumambulatory, indirect approaches to the text were what I enjoyed most, I think, and I’ve found that some of the research strategies had their own artistic merit. It seems Barthes’ work has endured for a number of reasons, but I think one of the reasons it remains relevant is because it situates itself between two forms, the theoretical and the personal. The ICI also works between two poles, between the broader realm of cultural production and academia. This, too, I think is very important, the ability to simultaneously be engaged with and critical of both worlds.
I feel like I have indeed figured some stuff out about Barthes, photography, and loss more broadly, but also about what I find important. I’m excited to see how the Barthes project is going to turn out, and will be pestering Lise and Sue-Na sporadically to see what else they’ve found.