Undisciplining Photography

Undisciplining Photography Symposium invites photographers and researchers to engage in debates on the potential of photography in contemporary visuality.  

What can we do with photography across disciplines: in and outside aesthetical, societal and political spaces? To what new horizons can we disclose the medium?   

What conventions should we leave behind to open up a photographic practice beyond the boundaries that have already been set to it?  To what political, historical and social roots can we trace these boundaries back?

What issues determine our lives today? How do you approach them visually? What decisions have shaped your visual strategies?

The symposium is divided into 5 thematic sections:
· Dirty Pictures
· Unlearning Imperialism
· Persons & Structures
· Unforgettable Loss
· Entangled Landscape

Download the programme


Imperialism and Photography

Colonial Rule, Missionary Vision and Counter-Practices

presented by Andrea Stultiens, Gerlov van Engelenhoven
guest speakers Sara Blokland, Walter Costa, George Mahashe, Dzifa Peters, Markha Valenta, Carine Zaayman
The world as we know it today has been shaped by centuries of colonization, imperial rule, global trade and extractive and exploitative human relationships. Grappling with the position of photography in societies requires close examination of the colonial legacy and how it is interlinked with the photographic medium. What can a decolonial, postcolonial or anti-colonial visual practice look like? How to address the historical trajectory and burden of imperialism and find ways out, around, through and living with these histories? What positions and methods are available?

As part of the symposium Reframing PJU, the online presentation of an ongoing and open ended research project initiated by Andrea Stultiens, will be launched. The project investigates the affordances of a collection of photographs in the collection of the Nederlands Fotomuseum, that was produced on the African continent between 1932 and 1962 by Paul Julien (NL, 1901-2001). See this Facebook event for more information.

image courtesy Andrea Stultiens, from work in progress Reframing PJU 


Dirty Pictures

Logistics, Infrastructure and Invisible Labour

presented by Donald Weber
guest speakers Michele Borzoni, Mads Holm, Donald Weber

The click of a mouse button can send you anything imaginable via online marketplaces such as Amazon. Within the fast circulation of goods, often hidden are forces of displacement, dispossession and violence. Warehouses, megaships and mega-ports, railroads and other infrastructures inhabit not just the edges of our cities, but often are key vectors of friction and risk. In a way, logistics is a map of human desire, an entanglement of biological and technological networks where often the most vulnerable are exploited to ensure the smooth flow of goods, people, money and information. How to address as a photographer such hidden, pervasive networks?

Confrontation between a policeman wielding a nightstick and a longshoreman striker during the West Coast waterfront
general strike, San Francisco, 1934.
Dorothea Lange. Shipyard Construction Workers, Richmond, California, 1942.


Unforgettable Loss

Images at the Intersections of Post-Memory, Trauma and Identity

presented by Shailoh Phillips
guest speakers Laia AbrilEwan MacbethAli Shobeiri

The persistence of traumatic memory is a recognizable part of post-conflict culture, often re-emerging long after the events that caused it have ceased. Narration or depiction might provide a means of dealing with the cataclysmic past, without suggesting that this process can ever be complete, or even sufficient. How are traumatic events passed down through generations? What is the role of photography within the production and reproduction of past traumas?

Image courtesy Nola Minolfi, Healing Memories

Royal Academy of Art,   Prinsessegracht 4, 2514 AN The Hague
27 May 2021 - 28 May 2021
11:00 AM - 7:00 PM  CET  
Registration for newsletter  here!
for inquiries 
Organized by Thomas Bragdon, Marica Kolcheva & Chris Becher