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The Materiality of Photographs

Thursday, April 5, 2018 - 10:00 to Friday, April 6, 2018 - 17:30 | Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
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Detail of Ger van Elk - Russian Diplomacy_1974, Chromogenic photograph with application of acrylic paint, collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo: Photo: Rik Klein Gotink

Symposium: The Materiality of Photographs

Date: April 5 and 6, 2018 Time: April 5, 10:00 – 5:30 pm / April 6, 10:00 – 5:30 pm 

Location: Teijin Auditorium, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Language: English

Admission: Regular €75,- / Student €30,-

Registration: registration fee includes refreshments, lunch and complementary two-day entrance to the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

The Materiality of Photographs

On April 5 and 6, 2018, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Leiden University host the conference The Materiality of Photographs, marking the conclusion of a four-year research project Photographs and Preservation: How to Save Photographic Artworks for the Future? This two-day symposium aims to foster lively, interdisciplinary dialogue about the impact that materiality has on collection care issues as well as on the overall experience of photographic artworks. How does material change over time, and how do these changes influence the interpretation of the artworks? This event intends to present, through papers, panel discussions, and a visit to the exhibition Forever Young? Impermanence in Photography the results of the research project. By fostering conversations between artists, art historians, conservators, and researchers, the symposium aspires to raise awareness about the beauty and the distinctive impermanent character of photography.

The research Photographs and Preservation focused on analogue photography, specifically post-1960s photographic artworks to which different materials were applied, such as various paints, varnishes, pressure sensitive tapes, or paper. From a conservation perspective, there are still many unanswered questions about the care that these works need and will need in the future. During the research project, conservators, art historians, and chemists jointly examined these multimedia photographs. The research and the symposium were generously funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and supported by the Kröller Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Dutch Cultural Agency (RCE), and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

The project was part of the Science4Arts program, which encouraged multi-disciplinary research into preventive and active conservation. For more information on the ‘Photographs and Preservation’ project and the Science4Arts program

Conference topics:

  •  Materiality of photographs
  • Impermanence of photographs
  • Photo-works
  • The (im)possibilities of reproduction
  •  Photographic image and photographic objecthood
  • The artist’s voice
  • Approaches to preservation and display

Organization committee:

  • Monica Marchesi (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)
  • Henri Sandront (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)
  • Britte Sloothaak (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)
  •  Sandra Weerdenburg (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)
  •  Kitty Zijlmans (Universiteit Leiden)