Picture Presence. New Conceptions of Space and Place in Contemporary Photography
Two-day international symposium
8 November 2017: IUAV, University of Venice, Aula Tafuri (Palazzo Badoer)
10 November 2017: M-Museum Leuven, Forum
Dirk Braeckman represents Flanders at the 57th Venice Biennale and brings a solo show in the Belgian Pavilion curated by Eva Wittocx. In the context of this exhibition M-Museum Leuven, University of Leuven, LUCA School of Arts, Lieven Gevaert Centre and IUAV University of Venice organize a two-day international symposium.
Dirk Braeckman’s (b. 1958) black-and-white photographs bring a sense of stillness against the backdrop of today’s cascade of images and information. Working with analog photography, in the 1990s Braeckman found a visual language that reflects on the act of viewing and the status of the image. The artist since then has been exploring the boundaries of his medium. He has challenged photographic conventions by rephotographing existing photographs or adding dust, hair and other elements to the image during the development process. The camera’s flash reflects off the surface of the subject, the texture of walls, curtains, carpets and posters. Today, Braeckman states that analog photography “continues to challenge [him], and [that he] can still see endless possibilities in it.” Simultaneously, since the late 1990s his work has been affected by the rise and the possibilities of digital media. The shift towards the digital image definitely changed the relationship between the photograph and the space in which a picture is shown. In some of Braeckman’s works, as well as in the work of many contemporary photographers, this evolution is apparent from the transition it has made away from a predominantly pictorial experience to more spatial forms of perception, in which photography allies itself rather to architecture and sculpture than to painting.
Taking the solo exhibition of Dirk Braeckman at the Belgian Pavilion of the 2017 Venice Biennale as a point of departure, next to the observation that photography more than ever before interacts with the space in which it is shown, this two-day symposium focuses on the broader relation between photography and the concepts of space, place and spatiality. Whereas space is often defined by an abstract scientific, mathematical, or measurable conception, place rather refers to the elaborated cultural meanings people invest in or attach to a specific site or locale. During the symposium artists, curators, and academics from different fields will examine the following key questions:
- How does the photographic image impact the perception and experience of the exhibition space and vice versa?
- Does this imply reconsidering our conventional understanding of the notion of “place”?
- How can we define photography’s new spatial possibilities in the digital age? Moreover, how is photography’s two-dimensional identity affected by the three-dimensional physical space on the one hand, and the virtual space on the other?
- Does this shifting photographic “spatiality” influence our conception of time or the temporality of our perception?
- In what way does the perception of a photographic image differ from the experience of a ‘real’ space/place?
- Does the photographic image constitute a space/place of its own? If so, can such a photographic space/place be called a reality?
- When the perception of a photograph does indeed affect the experience of the gallery space, what is the role of the body in this process?
- What is the status of images that do not represent outside reality but the insides of our bodies, such as X-rays? Are these images models or representations? What is the difference between both
Symposium committee: Geert Bouckaert, Liesbeth Decan, Jana J. Haeckel, Nicola Setari, Hilde Van Gelder, Angela Vettese & Eva Wittocx
Concept: Liesbeth Decan & Nicola Setari
Day 1 – Venice
8 November 2017, 2-9pm
IUAV, University of Venice, Aula Tafuri
Palazzo Badoer, San Polo 2468, 30125 Venezia, Italy
Welcome by Angela Vettese (IUAV University of Venice ) & Eva Wittocx (M-Museum Leuven)
Introduction by Liesbeth Decan (LUCA School of Arts Brussels)
Lecture Peter Geimer (Freie Universität Berlin) – “Visibility by Destruction”
Lecture Steven Jacobs (University of Ghent – University of Antwerp) – “Smudgy Architecture: Space and Place in Dirk Braeckman’s Photography”
Panel presentation with Cristina Baldacci (ICI Berlin), Antoni Muntadas (artist; IUAV University of Venice), Bas Princen (artist) & Clarissa Ricci (IUAV University of Venice), moderated by Jana J. Haeckel (LUCA School of Arts Brussels)
Lecture Hubertus von Amelunxen (The European Graduate School) – “Species of Spaces – Or How to Dispel Space in Photography”
Day 2 – Leuven
10 November 2017, 2-9pm
M-Museum Leuven, Forum
L.Vanderkelenstraat 28, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
Welcome by Bart Raymaekers (Vice Rector Humanities and Social Sciences Group, KU Leuven), Eva Wittocx (M-Museum Leuven) & Carl Van Eyndhoven (Dean LUCA School of Arts)
Introduction by Nicola Setari (LUCA School of Arts Brussels) & Liesbeth Decan (LUCA School of Arts Brussels)
Lecture Olga Smith (University of Warwick) – “Photography and the Museum: Experience, Time, Stillness”
Lecture Helen Westgeest (Leiden University) – “The Presence of the Photographic Surface in the Contact Zone”
Panel presentation with Frederik Maes (KU Leuven), Els Vanden Meersch (artist), Maarten Vergauwen (KU Leuven), Angela Vettese (IUAV University of Venice), moderated by Hilde Van Gelder (KU Leuven)
Virginia Heckert (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles) in conversation with Dirk Braeckman (artist), moderated by Eva Wittocx (M-Museum Leuven)
Cristina Baldacci received her PhD in Art History and Theory from the Università Iuav di Venezia (in conjunction with the Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), where she spent two additional years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. She has previously taught at the Università degli Studi di Milano, the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, and the Politecnico di Milano, and has conducted research as a Visiting Scholar at both Columbia University and the City University of New York.
Dirk Braeckman (artist)
Dirk Braeckman has spent the past 25 years gradually developing an extensive portfolio. Working with the medium of photography, he occupies a distinctive place within the visual arts. He has taken part in numerous exhibitions, such as solo shows at M—Museum Leuven, Le Bal in Paris, BOZAR in Brussels, De Appel in Amsterdam, S.M.A.K. (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Ghent. Recent gallery shows include Zeno X Gallery in Antwerp, Thomas Fischer Gallery in Berlin and RoseGallery in Santa Monica. Braeckman’s works are part of private and public collections around the world, including in FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, Sammlung Goetz, FNAC Paris or Musée d’Art Contemporain et Moderne in Strasbourg.
Liesbeth Decan (LUCA School of Arts Brussels)
Liesbeth Decan teaches theory and history of photography at LUCA School of Arts – Campus Sint-Lukas Brussels, where she is also the co-ordinator of the research group Photography Expanded. She holds a PhD in Art History (University of Leuven). Her research is focused on the use of photography by artists, especially in Belgium, between the 1960s and early 1990s.
Peter Geimer (Freie Universität Berlin)
Peter Geimer works in the intersection of art history, media theory and science studies. He has particularly written on theory and history of photography in its various uses, including in art and science. Much of his work has been concerned with history of science and the cultural and art history of things, relics and remains.
Jana Johanna Haeckel (LUCA School of Arts Brussels)
Jana Johanna Haeckel is a researcher, curator and lecturer based in Brussels. Her fields of research are contemporary art, visual culture and media studies, with a focus on image and body politics. She holds a PhD in the History of Art (UCL) and studied history of art, comparative literature, and French at the Humboldt University Berlin and Sorbonne Paris.
Virginia Heckert (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)
Curator and Department Head of the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Virginia Heckert’s area of expertise is German photography between the two World Wars, late 20th-century American photography, and contemporary photography.
Steven Jacobs (University of Ghent – University of Antwerp)
Steven Jacobs is an art historian specialized in the relations between film and the visual arts. His other research interests focus on the visualizations of architecture, cities, and landscapes in film and photography. His publications include The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock (2007), Framing Pictures: Film and the Visual Arts (2011), and The Dark Galleries: A Museum Guide to Painted Portraits in Film Noir (with Lisa Colpaert, 2013). He has published many articles in various journals such as History of Photography, October, Millennium Film Journal, Art Journal, and De Witte Raaf. He currently teaches at Ghent University and the University of Antwerp.
Frederik Maes (KU Leuven)
Frederik Maes, PhD, is professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT/PSI) of the KU Leuven, specialized in medical image analysis. His research is strongly application-driven and focuses on computational strategies for model-based analysis of medical images, in collaboration with clinical experts within the Medical Imaging Research Center of the KU Leuven. His work on 3D alignment of multi-modality medical images is recognised as a breakthrough in the field by IEEE. He so far has co-authored more than 250 peer reviewed publications and was (co-)promoter of 19 PhD theses.
Bas Princen (artist)
Bas Princen is an artist and photographer living and working in Rotterdam and recently in Zurich. He was educated as industrial designer at the Design Academy Eindhoven and later studied architecture at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam. Since then, through the use of photography, his work focuses on urban landscape in transformation, researching the various forms, outcomes and imaginaries of changing urban space.
Recent exhibitions include: Breuer Revised, at the Met in NY, 2017; Earth Pillar, solo Gallery, Paris, 2016; Constructing Worlds in the Barbican Art Gallery, London 2014; ‘Room of Peace’ in the Arsenale exhibition ‘Monditalia’ at the 14th Venice Bienale; Reservoir, deSingel Antwerp 2011; Five Cities, Depo, Istanbul 2010; The Venice Bienale of Architecture 2004 2006, 2010 and 2012.
Clarissa Ricci (IUAV, University of Venice)
Clarissa Ricci is a research fellow at IUAV University in Venice (Italy) with a focus on exhibtions, biennials, fairs and contemporary art as such. She has written numerous essays and edited a volume on the Venice Biennale Starting from Venice. Studies on the Biennale (et.al 2011). Most recently she published the entries for Grove Art Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2017) and the Art Market Dictionary (De Gruyter, 2018). She was a visiting scholar at Columbia University (NY) and received her PhD at the School of Advanced Studies in Venice (SSAV) from Cà Foscari (Ve).
Nicola Setari (LUCA School of Arts Brussels)
Nicola Setari is a researcher, curator, and writer based in Brussels. He holds a PhD in the History of Architecture, Art Sciences and Restoration from Ca’ Foscari and IUAV University, Venice. Since November 2016, he is the Head of Visual Arts and of the Research Unit Intermedia at LUCA School of Arts in Brussels. He was a member of the curatorial team of dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel (2012) and was the curator of CONTOUR 7, the moving image biennale in Mechelen (2015). Between 2010 and 2011 he was Project director of the Visionary Africa platform for the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels (BOZAR), working alongside renowned architect David Adjaye. In 2016 he co-edited with Hilde Van Gelder the book Allan Sekula: Mining Section (Bureau des mines). Collaborative notes.
Olga Smith (University of Warwick)
Olga Smith is an art historian with a research focus on contemporary photography and lens-based media. Having previously held positions in France, Germany and the UK in academia and the museum sector, she is currently developing a research project on the representations of landscapes in photography at Warwick University. Olga is the co-editor of Anamnesia: Private and Public Memory in Modern French Culture (2009) and has published articles in journals such as Art History, History of Photography, Fotogeschichte and Nottingham French Studies.
Els Vanden Meersch (artist)
Els Vanden Meersch is an artist, living and working in Antwerp, Belgium. She studied visual arts at the Sint-Lukas Hogeschool Brussels, was a post-graduate at HISK, Antwerp, and was participant at the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunst Amsterdam (2001-2002), at Platform Garanti, Istanbul (TR) and at the Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio (IT) (2012), Art Omi, NY and Triangle Art, NY (2012/2006). In 2017 she finished her doctoral research, entitled “Mastering the curtains”, at University Antwerp/AP.In her work Vanden Meersch explores the relationship between politics, architecture and identity through a multimedia use of sound, photo and installation. She focuses on the built environment as a representation of shared histories or common memories and on the use or misuse of this within conflict area’s in Iraq, Turkey and Iran. She published several artist books, and exhibits her work both nationally and internationally on a regular basis.
Hilde Van Gelder (KU Leuven)
Hilde Van Gelder teaches modern and contemporary art history at KU Leuven. Her research is focused on how the photographic and the moving image in contemporary art can function as a driving force for social change and imagining new human rights. She is director of the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography, Art and Visual Culture (LGC), and editor of the Lieven Gevaert Series (University Press Leuven). She has published in a wide variety of journals, including History of Photography, Semiotic Inquiry, Visual Studies, Grey Room, and Philosophy of Photography. Her most recent book publication is Allan Sekula. Ship of Fools / The Dockers’ Museum (2015, Leuven University Press).
Maarten Vergauwen (KU Leuven)
Prof. dr. ir. Maarten Vergauwen is an associate professor and head of the Geomatics research group at the KU Leuven. He received his PhD in the computer vision research group of prof. Luc Van Gool where he did research on uncalibrated 3D reconstruction. He co-founded the mobile mapping spin-off company GeoAutomation, specialized in acquiring accurate 3D surveying information from mobile imagery. He teaches courses on geomatics, photogrammetry, 3D laser scanning and modeling. His research interests include 3D reconstruction techniques, photogrammetry and surveying. As a professor in the faculty of Engineering Technology where close connections to the work field are encouraged, his research is rather applied than theoretical and is in many cases instigated by specific industrial or social demands.
Angela Vettese (IUAV University of Venice)
Angela Vettese is the director of the Graduate Course in Visual Arts at the IUAV University of Venice, where she teaches theory and criticism of contemporary art as an associate professor. She has taught at numerous fine arts academies, at the Bocconi University in Milan (2000-2007) and since 1986 she has written for the Sole 24 Ore Domenica magazine.
Vettese has written essays for several international catalogues and book. She also has been president of the fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa in Venice (2002-2013), director of the Galleria Civica in Modena (2005-2009) and curator at the Antonio Ratti Foundation (2005-2008). Additionally, she was the president of the jury of the Venice Biennale in 2009 and since 2016, she is the Artistic Director of Arte Fiera (Bologna).
Hubertus von Amelunxen (The European Graduate School)
Hubertus von Amelunxen is a philosopher, art historian, editor, curator, photography critic, and professor for philosophy of photography and cultural studies. Amelunxen has authored and published several books focusing on the history and theory of photography and has curated several international exhibitions. He currently serves as president and provost at the European Graduate School, based in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and Valletta, Malta.
Helen Westgeest (University of Leiden)
Dr. Helen Westgeest’s PhD research explored the interest of several American, French, German and Japanese artists in Zen Buddhism in the 1950s, in which early experiments in performance art played an important role. Subsequently, the focus of her research shifted to theories of photography and video art. Her current projects deal with comparative research into media in contemporary art. She is associate professor of modern and contemporary art history and photography theory at Leiden University, and works as field editor for photography at caa.reviews. Her most recent book publication is: Video Art Theory: A Comparative Approach (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016).
Eva Wittocx (M-Museum Leuven)
Eva Wittocx was appointed Senior Curator at M – Museum Leuven in 2009. M’s contemporary art program focuses on solo exhibitions by both emerging and established artists from Belgium and abroad. Eva Wittocx has curated exhibitions at the museum by Aglaia Konrad, Guy de Cointet, Peter Buggenhout, Sarah Morris, Sol LeWitt and others. She was previously a curator at S.M.AK. in Ghent (1997-2006) and at the STUK Arts Centre in Leuven (2006—2009).