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Alise Tifentale

Alise Tifentale

Adj Asst Professor


Degree Area of Specialization Institution Year
Ph.D. Mass Communications University 2001
M.A. Communication University 1986
B.A. Journalism University 1972



Dr. Alise Tifentale is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art History at the City University of New York at Kingsborough Community College since fall 2022. Tifentale is an art and photography historian whose research and writing focuses on three major areas: global photo-club culture and the transnational networks of photographers at mid-century (ca. 1950-1965), photography in social media such as Instagram, and selected topics in Soviet, post-Soviet, and Eastern European art and photography. Since 1998 she has written extensively about contemporary and media art as well as history of art and photography in Latvia and the Baltic region.

Tifentale is the author of the books Photographer Alnis Stakle (2009) and The Photograph as Art in Latvia, 1960-1969 (2011), her scholarly articles have appeared in journals such as ARTMargins, CAA.Reviews, MoMA Post, Networking Knowledge, PhotoResearcher, Russian Art & Culture, and others. She has contributed chapters to volumes such as Routledge Companion to Photography and Visual Culture (2018), Exploring the Selfie: Historical, Analytical, and Theoretical Approaches to Digital Self-Photography (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), The History of European Photography 1970–2000 (Central European House of Photography, 2016), and Postdigital Aesthetics: Art, Computation, and Design (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

Tifentale is the curator and director of the archive and estate of photographer Zenta Dzividzinska (1944-2011) and painter Juris Tifentals (1943-2001) ( She was the co-curator of the Pavilion of Latvia at the 55th Venice Art Biennale (2013), and founder and editor-in-chief of photography magazine Foto Kvartals (2005–2010).


Art 31 (Survey of Art History: Survey from Prehistory to the Present)

Art 33 (Survey of Art History: Ancient to Renaissance Art)

Art 34 (Survey of Art History: Renaissance to 19th-Century Art)

Art 36 (Twentieth Century Art)


Ph.D., The Graduate Center, CUNY, 2020

M.A., Art Academy of Latvia, 2010

B.A., University of Latvia, 1998

College Teaching

Since 2022 at CUNY Kingsborough; also: CUNY Queensborough, SUNY Old Westbury, Marywood University, and Art Academy of Latvia (Ph.D. thesis advisor at the Curatorial Studies department). Previously: CUNY York College, CUNY Bronx Community College.

Select Publications



Photo Club Culture: Global Collaboration, Competition, and Camaraderie in the 1950s (forthcoming).

The Photograph as Art in Latvia, 1960–1969 (Riga: Neputns, 2011).

Photographer Alnis Stakle (Riga: Neputns, 2009).

Peer-Reviewed Articles (selected)

“Sophie Thun Interprets Zenta Dzividzinska’s Negatives: A Case Study of Exploring and Re-evaluation of a Private Photo Archive,” in Proceedings of the National Library of Latvia 9, no. 29 (2022): 254–274.

“Photokina 1956: A Revolt Against the Universal Language of Photography,” in The Notebook for Art, Theory and Related Zones 26 (2019): 120–146.

“Introduction to José Oiticica Filho's 'Setting the Record Straighter' (1951),” ARTMargins 8, no. 2 (2019): 105–115.

“Art of the Masses:  From Kodak Brownie to Instagram,” Networking Knowledge 8, no. 6 (2015): 1–16.

“The First Exhibition of Fine Art Photography in Latvia after World War II. 1957–1958,” Art History & Theory 15 (2012): 26–33.

Book Chapters (selected)

“Following the Invisible Hand: The Role of Photo Clubs, Magazines, Exhibitions, and Curators in Latvian Photography, 1960–2000” in Elita Ansone, ed., Ten Episodes in Art of the Second Half of the 20th Century in Latvia (Riga: Latvian National Museum of Art, 2019), 239–277.

“Competitive Photography and the Presentation of the Self” (co-author Lev Manovich) in Jens Ruchatz, Sabine Wirth, and Julia Eckel, eds., Exploring the Selfie: Historical, Analytical, and Theoretical Approaches to Digital Self-Photography (London, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 167–187.

“The Selfie: More and Less than a Self-Portrait,” in Moritz Neumüller, ed., The Routledge Companion to Photography and Visual Culture (London, New York: Routledge, 2018), 44–58.

“Fifty Year Eclipse: Illuminating the Forgotten Legacy of Photographer Vilis Rīdzenieks” in Katrīna Teivāne-Korpa, ed., Vilis Rīdzenieks (Riga: Neputns, 2018), 12–31.

“Photography in Latvia, 1970–2000,” in The History of European Photography 1900–2000, Volume II (Bratislava: Central European House of Photography, 2017), 437–449.

“Into the Photographers’ Universe: What Separates Photographers from Artists?”, in Latvian Photography 2017 (Riga: FK, 2017): 44–51.

“The Networked Camera at Work: Why Every Self-Portrait Is Not a Selfie, but Every Selfie is a Photograph,” in Santa Mičule, ed., Riga Photography Biennial 2016 (Riga, 2016), 74–83. Reprinted in the online magazine Echo Gone Wrong, May 2, 2016.

“The Artist and Propagandist: Steichen's Role at Two Decisive Moments in the History of American Photography,” in Šelda Puķīte, ed., Edward Steichen. Photography (Riga: Latvian National Museum of Art, 2015), 33–37.

Selfiecity: Exploring Photography and Self-Fashioning in Social Media” (co-author Lev Manovich), in David M. Berry and Michael Dieter (eds.), Postdigital Aesthetics: Art, Computation and Design (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 109–122.

“Just what it is that makes Latvian art so different, so Latvian?” in North by Northeast. Catalogue of Pavilion of Latvia at the 55th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia (Riga: kim?, 2013), 18–28.

“From Photographic Art to Photography in Art,” in Ieva Astahovska (ed.), The Nineties. Contemporary Art in Latvia (Riga: The Latvian Center for Contemporary Art, 2010), 296–306.

Articles and Essays (selected) 

Completing an Unfinished Sentence: On the Collaboration between Sophie Thun and the Archive of Zenta Dzividzinska.” In Christin Müller and Torsten Scheid, eds., Sophie Thun. Trails and Tributes (ex. cat.), Hildesheim: Kunstverein Hildesheim and Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2023, 49–55.

“Working the Labor-Leisure Machine: Proposal for a Photography Museum Without Images,” Riga Technoculture Research Unit, Season 1, “Under the Hood.” February 2023.

“Photography Without Images: A Proposal to Think About the Medium as Practice, Apparatus, and Form of Social Interaction.” In Arnis Balčus and Alexey Murashko, eds., Latvian Photography Yearbook 2022 (Riga: Kultkom, 2022).

“Entering the Elusive Estate of Photographer Zenta Dzividzinska.” MoMA Post. Notes on Art in Global Context, March 24, 2021.

“The Lesser-Known Romantic Side of Soviet Art.” In Good Morning USSR (ex. cat.), Seoul: NAMA Gallery, mM Art Center, 2021.

“Is This the Right Time for Landscape Photography?” in Zane Zajančkauska, ed., Riga Photography Biennial 2020 (Riga: Riga Photography Biennial, 2020), 27–31.

“Machines, Methods, and Humans: On the Production Line of Contemporary Photography,” Fotografija 35, no. 1 (2018). Special edition “New Tools in Photography: From Google to the Algorithm,” guest-edited by Paul Paper.

The Family of Man: Photography Exhibition that Everybody Loves to Hate,” FK Magazine, July 2, 2018.

“The Myth of Straight Photography: Sharp Focus as a Universal Language,” FK Magazine, January 18, 2018.

“Rules of the Photographers’ Universe,” Photoresearcher, no. 27 (April 2017): 68–77. Special issue "Playing the Photograph," guest-edited by Matthias Gründig and Steffen Siegel.

“Exhibition Anri Sala: Answer Me at the New Museum,” CAA.Reviews, April 27, 2017. DOI: 10.3202/

“Underexposed Photographers: Life Magazine and Photojournalists’ Social Status in the 1950s,” FK Magazine, November 23, 2017.

“Making Sense of the Selfie: Digital Image-Making and Image-Sharing in Social Media,” Scriptus Manet: Journal of Humanities and Arts 1, no. 1 (2015): 47–59.

“The Peasant Woman Leads the Dance: Some Ambiguities Presented by Vera Mukhina’s Sculpture,” Russian Art & Culture 1 (2012): 7–15.

Ostalgia at the New Museum (Review Article),” ArtMargins, March 5, 2012.

“How Quickly Does Avant-garde Age?” Review of exhibition Art of Another Kind: International Abstraction and the Guggenheim, 1949–1960 on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, June 8–September 12, 2012. Studija 87, no. 6 (2012): 8–17.

“To Put Things into Order.” Review of exhibition This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, February 11–June 3, 2012. Studija 84, no. 3 (2012).

Research Interests

History of photography as a social practice, transnational cultural networks and the global photo-club culture, sociology of culture, photography in social media.

Awards Recognition

Research Fellowship, Cultural Analytics Lab, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (2013–2018)

Doctoral Student Research Grant and Marian Goodman Travel Grant. The Graduate Center, City University of New York (2016–2017)

Provost’s Summer Research grant. The Graduate Center, City University of New York (2014)

AABS (the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies), Jānis Grundmanis postgraduate scholarship (2013–2014)

AAUW (the American Association of University Women), International Postgraduate Fellowship (2013–2014)

Fulbright Foreign Student Fellowship. The Graduate Center, City University of New York (2011–2012)

Institutional Affiliations/ Professional Societies

College Arts Association (CAA)

Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC)

The Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS)

Photography Network (PN)

Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)

Personal Interests:

Mystery and crime novels by women authors

Nordic noir

British TV drama Midsomer Murders