Theory — 19 May 2019

On the occasion of the exhibition Welkom Today and in collaboration with Paradox, the Stedelijk Museum is organizing a debate panel on the importance of manifold voices in contemporary documentary photography.
Museum ticket + 3EU
Teijin Auditorium
19 May 2019, 3 pm until 5 pm
Main language

On the occasion of the exhibition Welkom Today and in collaboration with Paradox, the Stedelijk Museum is organizing a debate panel on the importance of mutuality contemporary documentary photography. Welkom Today is a collaborative project about the post-apartheid period in South Africa by photographers Ad van Denderen and Lebohang Tlali. The exhibition interweaves different perspectives, generations, and histories with each other. Welkom Today is a critical follow-up to Ad van Denderen’s 1990–1991 reportage, Welkom to South Africa. How do people look at themselves, their community and history?

Documentary photography has a long tradition of Western photographers who travel around the world in order to record conflicts, disasters, and inequality. At present, an increasing number of photographers are questioning their position as image makers. Instead of speaking about a community or culture, photographers are exploring new ways to engage in dialogue with their subjects and involve people in the way they are portrayed. How can visual representation become more inclusive?

Photographers Ad van Denderen, Lebohang Tlali, Susan Meiselas and Khalid Amakran will respond to Welkom Today from their own perspectives and experience. The project will be introduced by Anne Ruygt, co-curator of the exhibition. Following the panel discussion, visitors can view the exhibition on their own, and the speakers will also be present to answer any questions.


Ad van Denderen (1943) is a Dutch documentary photographer known for his long-term projects on societal themes such as migration, apartheid, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has worked as a freelance photographer for national and international news publications such as Vrij Nederland, NRC Handelsblad, Stern, and GEO. He has received a number of prizes for his work, including the Visa d’or at the Visa pour l’image in Perpignan in 2001 and the BKVB Fund’s oeuvre prize (now the Mondriaan Fund) in 2007. His work has been shown at international exhibitions and is included in the collections of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Huis Marseille, the Rijksmuseum, Fotomuseum Winterthur, and MAST Foundation, among others. He has published several books, including Peace in the Holy Land (1997), Go No Go (2003), So Blue, So Blue (2008), and Stone (2017).

Lebohang Tlali (1978) is active as a photographer, teacher, project manager, and curator in South Africa and Europe. He grew up in the township of Thabong during the apartheid era, and during that time became increasingly aware of the importance of education. After studying at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town, he decided to continue his education at KaosPilots in Bern, an alternative business school specializing in sustainable entrepreneurship and creative social innovation. He has worked for various cultural organizations, including the Cape Africa Platform, Stevenson Gallery, and the 10th Berlin Biennale. In recent years he has increasingly focused on youth education and inclusive art projects.

Susan Meiselas (1948) is an American documentary photographer. A member of the renowned Magnum photo agency since 1976, she is active in various countries and covers a wide range of topics, from war to human rights issues and from cultural identity to the sex industry. Using photography, video, and archive material, she experiments with different narrative forms in dialogue with her subjects. She questions her position as a photographer and witness in an individualistic way. Jeu de Paume devoted a retrospective to her work in Paris last year. In addition, Meiselas chairs the Magnum Foundation and has been working with photographer Wendy Ewald and academics Ariella Azoulay, Leigh Raiford, and Laura Wexler since 2013 on an alternative history of photography through the exhibition and research project Collaboration: A Potential History of Photography.

Khalid Amakran (1992) is a Moroccan-Dutch photographer and spoken word artist from Rotterdam. He is particularly interested in youth culture in the metropolitan environment. He is one of the founders of Concrete Blossom, a platform “for and by transverse thinkers, iconoclasts, and bridge builders who strive for an inclusive society.” He is also involved in the educational program of Welkom Today and, together with Lebohang Tlali, gives workshops on the theme of “separate worlds” at high schools in Amsterdam.

Anne Ruygt (1988) is an art historian and curator of photography. She is involved with various cultural institutions, including the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Paradox, and DuPho, and has previously done projects with Tate, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, FOMU, Marres, Z33, and Unseen. In recent years she has (co-)curated exhibitions such as Welkom Today (Stedelijk, 2019), Currents #6 (Marres, 2018–2019), Ai Weiwei (FOMU, 2017), Bernadette Corporation (Stedelijk, 2016), Addition – Gift Pieter and Marieke Sanders (Stedelijk, 2015), and On the Move – Stories in contemporary photography and graphic design (Stedelijk, 2014–2015). Together with Frits Gierstberg she published the anthology Between art and document: Photography criticism in the Netherlands 1980–2015 (nai010) in 2016.

 This Sunday Seminar is organized in conjunction with Welkom Today and X25 – The next 25 years of storytelling. The latter is a series of discussions and reflections on recent developments in documentary photography and its future practice. Paradox, a producer of multi-platform documentary projects, is organizing various events in 2019 and 2020 to mark its 25th anniversary.


Welcome and introduction - Anne Ruygt (exhibition curator)
Presentation - Susan Meiselas (photographer and a.o. director of the Magnum Foundation)
Conversation - Ad van Denderen, Lebo Tlali, Khalid Amakran and Susan Meiselas, moderated by Anne Ruygt
End of the plenary program, to exhibition galleries
End of the program
Museum closes