23 August (Monday) | 15.30 - 18.30
Deichman Bjørvika (Oslo's main public library)
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The festival's seminar ‘Photography and Words’ brings together academics, theoreticians, artists, and writers to comment on the books included in the festival. While the primary focus of the seminar is this particular relation between photography and literature, it is not limited to this theme. The seminar is composed of three panels: the first panel, 'Representation and Beyond', is devoted to contemporary critical contexts; the second panel, 'Photography and Words', investigates the aforementioned relations between photography and literature, and the third panel comments on 'Public Space'.
Welcoming intro by Thale Fastvold (FFF Styrleder) and opening speech by Annette Trettebergstuen (AP, Medlem av Familie- og Kulturkomiteen på Stortinget)
Panel I | Representation and Beyond
1. Zofia Cielatkowska, Photography as a Practice of Seeing (curator’s introduction to the festival)
2. Deborah Willis, A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship (fragment from the lecture - video)
3. Sofie Amalie Klougart on Dette året (2021)
4. Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Overwintering
Panel II | Photography and Words
1. Line Ørnes Søndergaard and Yohan Shanmugaratnam on BRUDDET/ THE SPLIT (2021)
2. Tonje Bøe Birkeland on The Characters, The Buthan Trilogy (2021)
3. Jiri Havran on Photo After Sebald (2019)
4. Tomas Espedal, Liv og kunst. Liv som kunst.
Panel III | Public Space
1. Viel Bjerkeset Andersen, Mot nord (Towards North); Arbeidersamfunnets plass seen from an Artist’s Point of View.
2. Siv Hofsvang, On Public Space
3. Closing speeches
Panel I | Representation and Beyond
Panel II | Photography and Words
Panel II | Photography and Words
BIO | Deborah Willis
Deborah Willis, PhD, is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She is the author of The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship and Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, among others. Professor Willis’s curated exhibitions include: "Framing Moments in the KIA," "Migrations and Meanings in Art", "Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits” at the International Center of Photography; Out of Fashion Photography; Framing Beauty at the Henry Art Gallery and "Reframing Beauty: Intimate Moments" at Indiana University. //debwillisphoto.com/
BIO | Sofie Amalie Klougart is a Danish photographer based in Oslo. She has worked as a photography teacher and as a photo editor. Her projects portray site-specific environments that reveal global issues and tendencies. Klougart has exhibited in renowned institutions at well as in more experimental formats; in museums, art centres and at various international photo festivals. In 2022 she will be exhibiting at The National Museum in Oslo.
BIO | Thomas Hylland Eriksen is a professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo, as well as the 2015–2016 president of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, and a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. His work is motivated by a triple concern: to understand the present world, to understand what it means to be human, and to help bring about social and environmental change. Apart from academic publications, he also write essays and miscellaneous nonfiction intended for the general reader.
BIO | Line Ørnes Søndergaard (b. 1986) is a documentary photographer working with social and political issues. Her intimate photographic approach has received attention in the photographic landscape and awarded at large; (a.o) Norwegian Picture of The Year, Picture Of the Year International, The Lucie Foundation and NPPA Best of Photojournalism award. Søndergaard has been selected for prestigious programs such as World Press Photo’s Joop Swartz Masterclass and Norwegian Journal of Photography and her work has been exhibited (a.o.) at Dokfestivalen in Fredrikstad, Fotografiens Hus in Oslo and Henie Onstad Center of the Arts. Søndergaard lives at Nesodden, Norway.
BIO I Yohan Shanmugaratnam (b. 1979) is a foreign news journalist in the daily Klassekampen and the author of the critically acclaimed book Vi puster fortsatt (We are still breathing). This personal story about racism and roots in Norway and the world at large became an instant success and Aftenposten named it one of ten best books to be published in 2020. The last couple of years British politics, Brexit and related subjects have been his main field of coverage as a journalist, writer and panelist. Shanmugaratnam lives in Oslo, Norway.
BIO | Tonje Bøe Birkeland (b. 1985 in Bergen, Norway) has an MFA from Bergen Academy of Art & Design. Birkeland started working on the project The Characters in 2008, with an aim to encapsulate an entire artistic practice. For the past 10 years, Birkeland’s project has allowed her to give women a position within the landscape while exploring the authenticity of history. Her project The Characters awarded Birkeland The Victor Fellowship by The Hasselblad Foundation in 2012, and the first book of The Bhutan Trilogy (2016) won second place in the Norwegian Design Contest Årets Vakreste Bøker (2017). She has also been published in The Norwegian Journal of Photography, Fritt Ord (2017), and in Girl on Girl – Art & Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze, Charlotte Jansen, Laurence King Publishing, London (2017).
BIO | Jiri Havran is a Czech/Norwegian photographer based in Oslo. Born 1953 in Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic, in Norway since 1974. In recent years he has worked on visualizing battlefields of the Middle Ages and battlefields of the Thirty Years' War (1618-48). Havran has participated in a number of publications on both modern and traditional architecture. Has had several solo exhibitions both in Norway and abroad, participated in many group exhibitions, and published several monographs. While working with documentary photography during the 80s, from the early 90s he works with project-based photography. Several of those projects have resulted in both exhibition and a monograph, “Årdal Hva?” (with Leif Gabrielsen and Raymond Mosken), “from architecture”, Gallery Jaroslav Fragner, Prague, “Railway’s Typology”, Hedmark kunstsenter, Hamar, “Historic Landscape”, Gallery Balder, Oslo and “Photo after Sebald”
BIO I Thomas Espedal (b. 1961, Bergen) debuted as an author in 1988. He is a graduate of the University of Bergen and has published both novels and short stories. In 1991 he was awarded a prize in the P2 / Book Club's novel competition for She and I (Hun og jeg, 1991). He has been the initiator of the Bergen International Poetry Festival. Tomas Espedal often experiments with various genres. In his later publications, Espedal writes closely about his own life and experience. Espedal published inter alia; Elsken (2018), Mitt privatliv (2014), Imot naturen, notatbøkene (2011), Imot kunsten, notatbøkene (2009), Gå. Eller kunsten å leve et vilt og poetisk liv (2006), Brev, et forsøk (2005), Dagbok, epitafer (2003), Biografi, glemsel (1999).
BIO | Viel Bjerkeset Andersen is a Norwegian visual artist and sculptor mainly working with site-specific art projects. Over the years, she has been involved in several public art projects, and due to innovation and her ability to produce surprising works, they are both interesting and relevant. She has been ground breaking in the field of art in infrastructure in Norway. Her art works can be close to both architecture, landscape architecture and landart, but she also works with sculptures, objects and installations in different media. Her art projects relate to the site’s history and situation, often influenced by the presence of the sun and the site’s specific light and acoustics, and always with a focus on the human scale, movement and perception connected to its environments. Viel Bjerkeset Andersen has her education from SHKS and SKA, now both part of Oslo National Academy of the Arts. She has also been an artist in residence at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, at a one-year French Government’sscolarship. She has been giving several talks in different fora for more than twenty-five years and is also working as a curator.
BIO I Siv Hofsvang is anassistant professor at OsloMet, Faculty of Technology, Art and Design, Department of Art, Design and Drama Lecturing in Art History, with an emphasis on contextual and material qualities. Lecturer and co-ordinator for study on photography and print, and architecture and public space. Previously LES committee member for KORO working with art projects in public space and curator and exhibition organizer at Galleri F 15 and Punkt Ø.Since her master thesis on the Guerrilla Girls, her special interest has been on art and the public interaction. She is particularly interested in what happens in the meeting between the public and the artwork, and the totality of the art experience.
BIO I Zofia Cielatkowska is a philosopher and an independent researcher, curator, and art critic. She holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and works across the fields of visual culture, feminist art history, contemporary French thought, Norwegian contemporary art, and environmental humanities. She publishes in various art magazines (Kunstkritikk, Hyperallergic, Tique Art, etc.). Cielatkowska is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and The Norwegian Critics’ Association (Norsk kritikerlag).She lives in Oslo, Norway.
Marina Vitaglione, Solastalgia, Overlapse (2017)
Both the camera and the pen are, in a way, ultimately colonial tools, ordering, categorizing, and thereby creating reality in their own image. Each in their own way, photography, and writing take possession of the world, freeze it in images and representations, and often kill its vitality in the process.
– Filip de Boeck, Kinshasa: Tales of the Invisible City
But can this vitality – in images or words – be saved at all? And if so, what would it consist of?
For sure, both images and words are narratives – just different ones. While the text is fiction per se, photography creates a powerful illusion of its own singularity or authenticity. But in fact, a photographic image functions as an artifact with an infinite number of interpretations. The seemingly shifting nature of fiction in these two instances cannot deny that sometimes fiction serves as a better tool to make reality more visible and alive.
Sometimes these two similarly different narratives, or these two 'modes of representation' (E. Welch), meet in a very particular form, in a very particular genre. There are books in which the text could be an independent entity, but for some reason, they use photography as a partner in dialogue, as a partner in telling the story. These connections between the text and image vary from explicit to nuanced, from obvious to unapparent, from scientific to poetic. Sometimes one adds something to another, sometimes something gets lost, but for sure they create a specific form. The seminar focuses precisely on these unique publications in which text and photography are in dialogue.[i] These books treat the photographic image not just as a purely informative or aesthetic supplement, but as a meaningful component.[ii] What do these two narratives give to each other and what is lost? How to analyze and interpret books that are both literature and photography? How is their storytelling similar or different? While the primary focus of the seminar is placed on this particular relation between photography and literature, it is not limited to, and examples from other disciplines like history, anthropology, science, journalism, etc. will be also taken into account.
To give credit to historical precedents, early Surrealist experiments should surely be taken into consideration, but there are countless other examples: from the emblematic Austerlitz (2001) by S.W. Sebald to the more theoretical and politically engaged After the Last Sky (1986) by Edward Said, the essayistic Citizen: An American Lyric (2014) by Claudia Rankine, the poetic Quelque chose noir (1986) by Jacques Roubaud, or Secrets from the Center of the World (1989) by Joy Harjo and Stephen Strom, to more typical fiction and literature such as Every Day Is for the Thief (2007) by Teju Cole.
In the Nordic context, one surely has to mention a very particular literary investigation by Tomas Espedal in Mitt privatliv (2014), a documentary study of a rural community by Sune Jonsson in Byn med det blå huset (1959), and the minimalistic photographic and literary forms of Fuglene under himmel (2019) by Karl Ove Knausgård. Or, in a more recent context, John Erik Riley’s Det jeg var (2020).
The focus on literature relates to FFO’s 2021 collaboration with Oslo’s local libraries in order to make photography books more accessible to the public. Additionally, the library of the FFF and Fotogalleriet will be present during the festival. In this context of literature exchanges, the seminar also aims to create a base collection of titles (LIST OF BOOKS) that explore this particular ‘double narrative’ of texts and words. If you have an example of a book that might be considered in this particular context, please write to us. Publications outside of the European and American contexts are especially encouraged.
[i] Then, at the margins of this ‘double narrative’ occur also other phenomena; publications that keep a primary focus on photography in which the text serves as an intrinsic and necessary extension (Nina Strand, So, how do you think you're doing?, 2009; Tonje Bøe Birkeland, The Characters; Stéphanie Solinas, Le Pourquoi Pas, 2020), passages in literature so closely linked to the photographic medium that the presence of the photographic image appears as present in its absence (Lê Thi Diem Thúy, The gangster, we are all looking for, 2003) or styles of writing that remind ‘rythme d’une caméra textuelle' (Jérôme Game).
[ii] This double narrative phenomenon does not appear in ‘study cases’ of various discipline studies (plant, medical, animal atlases, or encyclopedias), neither it is a part of biographies or memoirs where the use of photography seems to be more explainable.