Jeff Wall: Photography as an (Hybrid) Art Object
15 Jun 2014

This mini-symposium explores contemporary thinking on photography as an (hybrid) art object.

Stedelijk Museum, Teijin Auditorium
3 - 5:30 pm
Entreebewijs museum + €2,50 Public Program fee

Necessary. Register here.

Jeff Wall, Boxing, 2011, kleurfoto, courtesy van de kunstenaar
Jeff Wall, Boxing, 2011, kleurfoto, courtesy van de kunstenaar

In conjunction with the exhibition Jeff Wall: Tableaux Pictures Photographs 1996 – 2013, the Stedelijk Museum and the Science4Arts NWO present a mini-symposium that explores contemporary thinking on photography as an (hybrid) art object. Featuring acclaimed speakers such as David Campany (Reader in Photography at the Media, Arts and Design department of the University of Westminster Watford Road London), Helen Westgeest (Lecturer at Leiden University), Caroline von Courten (researcher at Science4Arts) and Monica Marchesi (conservator Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam), during this afternoon the speakers discuss from both a theoretical perspective as well as from the perspective of the object the question: how can we perceive photography as an art object, considering the influences of magazines, film and different techniques such as assemblage?


3:00 – 3:45 key-note by David Campany
Campany is interested in the fact that photography became artistically modern in the 1920s when it embraced three things: The vernacular character of photography (i.e. non-art photography such as reportage, scientific images, architectural photography, the snapshot), the organized body of work (as opposed to the single, exemplary image) and the mass produced printed page (photographic books, journals and magazines). All three complicate our idea of the photograph as art object. Of course, the work of Jeff Wall - the singular, large print made specifically for the gallery encounter - exemplifies a very different claim to photographic art and ‘objecthood’. Like this, he will address a different version of the modern photograph as art.

3:45 – 4:15 short lecture by  Helen Westgeest
The Filmic Photograph: A ‘Reanimated’ or ‘Petrified’ Image?
A photograph is often defined as ‘a frozen moment from the past’, whereas film is characterized as ‘living present’. In contemporary art photography we see an increasing interest in bridging differences between photography and film. Jeff Wall, for instance, calls his photographs ‘cinematographic photographs’, while artists such as David Claerbout and Ute Friederike Jürss ‘reanimate’ photographs by adding subtle movements to them. In this talk Westgeest argues that the result of the latter kind of ‘expanded photography’ looks even more ‘petrified’ than a still photograph.

4:15 – 4:45 short presentation of the Science4Art-NWO research by Caroline von Courten and Monica Marchesi
The photographic surface and beyond (Von Courten)
In our perceptional behaviour the content of the photograph (what is photographed) predominates the awareness for the medium itself (what a photograph is). By foregrounding the material factors of the analogue photograph – and in case of hybrid photoworks of the other materials superimposed on the photograph as well – Von Courten introduces a different theoretical approach to photographic artworks taking into account their objecthood. Her focus lies on the concept of the photographic surface: what does an artwork’s surface reveal beyond its obvious content?

One and three: conservation of photographic artwork by Jan Dibbets (Marchesi)
As a closing lecture, Monica Marchesi will present the reproduction history of Jan Dibbets, Comet Sea 3-60°, one of the case studies examined in her PhD research, Reproduction as a Conservation Strategy for Photo-works. A Comparative Study.The reproduction history of this photographic artwork will shed some light on why it was reproduced, how the decision was made, who was involved in the process, how the reproduction happened and in which setting. The lecture will focuson the similarities and differences of the various prints and at the same time possible gains or losses during the reproduction process will be discussed.

16:45 – 17:15 Moderated Q&A