R E N D E Z V O U Z THE POETICS OF THE CITY ARCHIVE OF AMSTERDAM
B Y M Y L A I N E R O E L O F S & L A U R A V A N R I J S MARCH 2014
Mylaine Roelofs firstname.lastname@example.org Student ID: S1216341
Laura van Rijs email@example.com Student ID: S1457470
Place of a homeless one by the Overzichtweg, near Amstel Station, 2003 -‐ Nico Bick Collection: photo-‐documentary assignments
T A B L E OF C O N T E N T S
1. I N T R O D U C T I O N & M O T I V A T I O N 2. B A C K G R O U N D 3. E X H I B I T I O N 4. W E B S I T E 5. S I D E P R O G R A M 6. C O M M U N I C A T I O N & M A R K E T I N G 7. P A R T N E R S & C O O P E R A T I N G P A R T I E S 8. F I N A N C E S
7 11 17 23 29 37 47 53
Soccer game in the Ajax stadium in the Watergraafsmeer neighbourhood, 1930 – Vereenigde Fotobureaux N.V. Collection: photo prints
1. I N T R O D U C T I O N & M O T I V A T I O N In 1992 journalist Ursula den Tex wrote the introduction to the publication Foto’s voor de Stad, a recurrent retrospective catalogue of the documentary photo-‐assignments for the Visual City Archive of Amsterdam.1 Since 1972, together with the Amsterdam Fund of the Arts (AFK), they yearly provide an assignment to document the city on an artistic level. Directing herself towards the future researchers, who might throw themselves onto the thrilling challenge of investigating the possibilities of these visual archives, Den Tex stresses the beauty and strengths of these assignment-‐photographs, and warns for temptation to get lost in this immense visual pleasure. Now, after more than twenty years, as the contemporary researchers Den Tex was speaking to, we feel the same enthusiasm Den Tex expressed in her plea, when confronted with the treasures of the Visual City Archive of Amsterdam. As specialists in the field of photography we were familiar with the archive and the commissions they set out, but even then, we were surprised to find such a rich collection of images: (unknown) imagery from well-‐known photographers that were the result of the documentary photo-‐assignments alongside unique photographs by anonymous creators as well. Striking is the fact that these visual documents are absorbed in a quite non-‐visual oriented online archive. They are ‘buried’ under the mass. The question then arises: are people really aware of the highly qualitative photography that is housed in this archive and its potential as a huge visual playground? Because, that is how we perceive this archive. Through all its aesthetically different faces, portraying different times and artistic visions, we see the beauty of the forms, the colours, and the atmospheres: togetherness, loneliness, love, hurt, fear, happiness, melancholy, beauty, and ugliness. Here we see an alternative way of historical storytelling: not by the means of a historical language, but a purely visual, associative, intuitive language. This seems to be quite a unique perception though. Previous curators primarily chose a traditional historical angle of incidence, focussing on linear progress and a chronological timeframe. This led to quite conservative, straightforward exhibitions, concerning a certain period of time, place or author. This was for instance the case with the recurrent overview exhibition Foto’s voor de stad, held in the former Museum Fodor. Even the last retrospective exhibition, curated by Wim de Bell in 2003 in the Amsterdam Historical Museum (now Amsterdam Museum), had the similar conventional approach. In our opinion these curators have not yet ceased the opportunity to really look at the archive as a visual source, purely considering form, aesthetics, spheres and impressions and thereby presenting a different notion of the archive and the history of the city. They fail to stress the visual ligature between these images of different times, auteurs and styles. The poetic approach provides a new structure for the archive that will open up doors to the many alternative story of Amsterdam. 1
Den Tex, U. (1992). Fotografie en verslaggeving. Pleidooi voor een oude verstandhouding. In (Van Veen, A. Ed.) Foto’s voor de
Ursula den Tex is working for the Anna Cornelis Fund, founded in 1991. The Anna Cornelis Fund is a foundation for the support and stimulation of documentary photography in the Netherlands.
Left: Children with braided hair, 2004 – Judith van Ijken Collection: photo-‐documentary assignments Right: Aerial photograph, Bijlmer East, 1973 -‐ Photographer unknown Collection: archives of Spatial Planning
As a reaction to this absence of approach we feel the need and responsibility to make visible these hidden treasures, and to show their visual strength. With a contemporary view on the archive we are dusting of the conservative image of the photo archive. With launching an exhibition with the emphasis on a visual and aesthetic narrative, rather than the previously traditional historical presentations, our aim is to highlight the potential of this special collection. We are opening up this immense treasure house to a broader public, giving it the daylight it deserves. Next to showing the quality and beauty of the image archive, the exhibition will also inexplicitly expose its structure; the convergence of different photographic collections and the additional documents from the documentary photo-‐assignment. As Den Tex warns her reader for the alluring beauty of the images she also lightly touches upon a dichotomy concerning these documentary photo-‐assignments: the division between autonomous artistic freedom on the one hand and producing a social-‐historical document on the other hand. Here she hits upon a debate, alive ever since the emergence of the documentary photography-‐assignments in the 1970s in the Netherlands. The challenge for the photographer was to meet the demands of the client (the archive or a collection) to create a veracious reproduction of reality while at the same time securing a personal artistic vision. For further investigation, this paradox will be given its own platform to be discussed upon. Together with experts in the field we will discuss and look more closely at the contemporary as well as the future state of photo-‐documentary assignments, during a specialised symposium discussed later on in this report. In the photo-‐documentary assignment policy of the City Archive of Amsterdam, this paradox described above, is clearly present. Here we see a clear assembly of a topographically oriented archive (City Archive of Amsterdam) and an art(ist) driven institute (AFK). This translates into imagery of the city, its people and urban phenomena, characterized by the artistry of the creator. Consequently, this raises important questions about the assignment and the role of archives and collecting; does the author’s vision contribute to the story of a certain time or is it merely a personal storiette? Can author-‐driven photography be seen as an added value for a topographical archive? Is the author creator or subject? And thus, looking back at more than thirty years: how meaningful have photo-‐documentary commissions been regarding the representation of a city in a certain time? Questions that have certainly been raised through the years, but the answers are seemingly still floating somewhere in the air. These questions are certainly not only relevant for the City Archive of Amsterdam; they are related to Dutch photo-‐documentary assignments in general. We feel it is time to set out the markers. Has giving photo-‐documentary assignments been a success? Or should we revise strategies?
Maria Antonia (Mies) Merkelbach (1904-‐1985). Photographer, 1935 -‐ Photographed presumably by her later husband Bobby Rosenboom, also employed by photographic Atelier J. Merkelbach. Collection: studio J. Merkelbach
2. B A C K G R O U N D History The City Archive Amsterdam is a centre for historical documentation of the city of Amsterdam. It consists of more than 35 kilometres of archives; a historic-‐topographical collection with millions of maps, drawings and prints; a library and extensive sound, film, and photo archives. In addition to archiving existing material, the City Archive organises the above-‐mentioned yearly photo-‐documentary assignments in the field of visual arts and photography. Since 1972 the City Archive and the AFK have consistently given the opportunity to Dutch photographers to document the city and its urban environment on an artistic level. Traditionally the archive is collecting historical documents of subjects concerning Amsterdam. Although the collection of the City Archive contains an important (historical and art-‐historical) selection of photographs of known and lesser-‐known photographers, a real tradition in collecting photography didn’t exist until the sixties.2 It was only until then that parts of, or complete inheritances of interesting photographers like Jacob Merkelbach or Jacob Olie, were added to the collection of the City Archive. It was Wim Vroom who caused an upheaval in the collection policy. As conservator of the time he was the first to purchase works from contemporary photographers and to give photography the same treatment that only prints and drawings had been given until then.3 Of course this change was parallel to the mainstream acceptance of photography as an art form around the sixties. The photo-‐assignment, still existing today, followed from the archive’s practice to yearly set out an assignment for artists to document Amsterdam and its surroundings. For photography such a policy was missing. It was the GKf, the Dutch professional photographers organization, who proposed the idea of an assignment. They argued that the city’s archival collection would gain value if they would expand their factual documentation with photographic images by Amsterdam based photographers, as they were able to combine imagery that would provide a realistic and truthful representation together with a contemporary view.4 Furthermore it was the organization’s intention to stimulate Dutch photography by financial support and specified policy. The plan was received positively and the assignment was realised. In 1975 the department of Dutch History of the Rijksmuseum followed the example of The City Archive of Amsterdam. They initiated a photo assignment funded by the government that, likewise, is still standing strong. Yearly the Rijksmuseum asks two or more photographers to make documentaries about subjects that may be of later importance in Dutch history.5 Together, the Rijksmuseum and the City Archive of Amsterdam have build up a versatile archive. Being the pioneers, these both Amsterdam-‐based institutes functioned as a role model for other Dutch municipalities. City’s like Utrecht or Groningen also began to develop a structural 2
Perspektief, june 1987, No. 28/29, p. 54. Perspektief, june 1987, No. 28/29, p. 54. 4 Perspektief, june 1987, No. 28/29, p. 52. 5 Perspektief, june 1987, No. 28/29, p. 18. 3
assignment policy regarding photography, causing a flourishing photography assignment climate in the Netherlands. To create a complete image of Amsterdam, the assignment by the City Archive of Amsterdam was made three folded: a documentary approach, a free expressional approach and a historical approach. These commissions were seen as of great importance for the development of Dutch photography. In the preceding years there had not been such an incentive. With the historical approach older photographers were asked to make a unique selection from their oeuvre, selecting negatives they had never developed before, with regard to the City Archive, thereby retroactively giving them the recognition and support. This historical approach was ended in 1989 due to the fact that the AFK only wanted to stimulate new art. The present day Today, the Photography Archive of the City of Amsterdam is a blend of very different collections. The archive houses the archives of the Maria Austria Institute, which is a rich collection of more than fifty important Dutch photographers like for example Eva Besnyö, Kees Scherer and Paul Huf, collections from Amsterdam-‐based companies, and of the municipality, like that of Urban Planning, the Municipal Housing Department and that of Preservation. Next to this, ‘amateur’ photographers are encouraged to contribute to the extensive (online) archive by posting their own pictures of Amsterdam to online photography channels like Flickr. Though, by far the most pictures, about one third, come from their own photo service that has been around since 1946. Every year two neighbourhoods are selected which are carefully captured; streets, streetlife, houses and details. Alongside, there is a special focus on locations that are subject to change, for example by demolition, renovation, new construction works or the changing functions of buildings. These images have a more registrational, objective character. All these varying types of photographs are complemented with the assignment photography existing since its start in 1972. This collection consists of more than 6000 photographs of many important contemporary Dutch photographers. With more than hundred photographers represented, the collection provides a unique overview of Dutch documentary photography. Some of the photographers whose work is included in the collection are Koen Wessing, Oscar van Alphen, Ed van der Elsken, Laura Samson Rous, Hans Aarsman, Viviane Sassen, Andrea Stultiëns, Raimond Wouda, Ad Nuis, Nico Bick, Dana Lixenberg, Julika Rudelius, Petra Noordkamp, and Petra Stavast. The City Archive makes use of the artistic viewpoint of the artists to document the city, its inhabitants and urban phenomena; photography as a meaningful social medium to record the era and to preserve it for future generations. From the start, yearly five photographers were assigned with a commission. Since 1986 it became three projects that are subsidized, each with approximately € 10,000 euros, for which about twenty pictures are printed. More than 5,000 of the assignment photographs are digitized and made accesible by means of an online image library. In principal, the subject and its elaboration were and still are often a completely free choice for the photographers, although a list of possible topics is provided. It did occur that some
Nastya for AnOther Magazine, 2012 – Blommers-‐Schumm Collectiion: photo-‐documentary assignments
photographers are asked to respond to a certain topic or to a specific body of work within the archive. Like the commission of 2012, where photographers Erwin Olaf, Petra Stavast and the duo Blommers & Schumm were asked to reflect on the portrait photography of Jacob Merkelbach. The development within documentary photography is clearly visible through the years. In the early years of the existence of the assignment, the photographs are characterized by a strong social-‐political engagement with topics like misuse; abolish prejudices, or the multi-‐ cultural society. But the classic black and white documentary photography gave way for more color, bigger camera’s and a less unanimity regarding style or approach. In fact, looking back at the assignment from 2012 with photographers duo Blommers & Schumm, whose visual language is more directed to the field of fashion rather than to documentary. However this could also tell us something about the zeitgeist of the time.
3. E X H I B I T I O N Mission It has been more then ten years since there has been a retrospective exhibition of the documentary photography assignments of the City Archive of Amsterdam. As mentioned in the introduction, in the past, all previous overview exhibitions showed the works of important photographers that are incorporated in the archive. However this is always done in quite traditional exhibition designs: always carefully directed towards the authors; the photographers, or by giving a historical overview and placing the photo series in a certain timeframe. Although the artistic value is visible through it, it was not of most importance here. When looking back at these ways of showing the works that are housed by the archive, we feel a sense of disappointment. It is regrettable that until today, there has never been an exhibition that truly showed the visual potential of the archive, which lays the emphasis on the visual and the artistic rather than on a chronological history. Next to the fact that after ten years it is again time for a retrospective, we feel that the character of the commission has changed quickly in the last few years. In comparison to the early years, dominated by social-‐historical engagement, the outcomes of the assignments today, seem to lean more and more towards artistic expression. This changing fact can hardly be overlooked and a retrospective is therefore more suitable than ever. Moreover, we feel that with the changing character of the assignments, a different approach towards exhibiting is more than appropriate. Our exhibition proposal is all but linear. Briefly the exhibition has the intention to take the archive as main-‐subject itself. Commissioned work is being complemented with all the other photographic material that is housed in the archive. Going against the grain, images are selected on a more associative way by means of words, form, color, sphere and aspirations. Not being led by events but by emotions, not by facts but by poetics, together these pictures show an alternative and refreshing history of Amsterdam. There is not just one history, there is only a multitude of experiences. By using the image archive as a whole, drawing from all different projects that were included in the photo-‐archive in the last decades, we create a new visual storytelling of Amsterdam. Through combining all these subsets, all made with very different intentions, the exhibition will also include real nuggets that were made without artistic merit but that dó have cultural value; from anonymous aerial photos to portraits by famous photographers and everything in between. A seemingly boring picture suddenly takes on meaning when juxtaposed with a careful artistic image. The individual works from the various collections are as it were separate building blocks that together make up and shape the image of Amsterdam. Instead of seeing the collection and the different type of imagery as separate and isolated sources, the exhibition clearly shows how valuable it is to make cross overs within the collections. The exhibition is a rendezvous of images that are carefully stored in their own collection but never come together with each other.
Exhibition rooms 1st floor
Exhibition room 3 21,00 m 37,94 m2 4,75
3,40 Entresol 18,15 m 31,73 m2 (1.00)
3,00 1,70 0,92
4,48 Exhibition room 2 18,75 m 39,00 m2
Exhibition room 1 30,74 m 90,25 m2
Total running metres: 78,19 m Total square metres: 191,98 m2
The walls are approximately 4 metres high
scale 1 : 100
Floor plan Fodorzalen Foam & Sketch of wall in room 1
Venue: Foam The Exhibition will be held in Foam, on the first floor in the Fodorzalen. The choice for this venue was motivated by Foam’s broad character of interest (from documentary to fashion, from contemporary to historical, and from world famous photographers to young talents), and thereby its popularity with a wide audience of photography lovers. Foam has a young, fresh and trendy character, with amongst its visitors the new young cultural elite. We considered this of importance, for we wanted to shake off the conservative image of archival documents and exhibitions, and really bring forward the aesthetic beauty of the photographs, giving the poetic voice the space it needs. Design So how can we propose this atlas of images? It might better be called an atlas of properties of things by establishing an incredible variety through images and bringing multiple stories together. The exhibition will consist of both vintage prints that are housed in the archive, as well as new printed images. This design, with combinations of different materials and sizes, represents the variety of images and its uses, but also corresponds with the city’s multiplicity. To create a hold, the more than 300 selected images are grouped under five sub-‐topics. We have selected very different terms; SHELTER, GREY, LOVE, RICH, TIME. Instead of factually describing what can be seen, these terms will work in an associative and wide interpretative way, operating beyond the standard terminology of archiving. A deserted self-‐build residence of a homeless one fits under SHELTER, but the same goes for a turtle’s shield. In this way, several topics are addressed. The themes can establish connections between the actual works, but could also draw comparisons with images from sometimes distant fields and periods in time. Next to our immediate surroundings, also abstract qualities will be brought forward. The in fact rational archive emerges in a poetic world with no beginning or end. This takes the visitor from the general to the particular, from rules to exceptions and conversely. Each image can stand on its own, though the combinatorial montage makes them also part of a larger whole. The assemblage of all these visions ranges far and wide but ultimately time and space collapse into one huge universal world.6 Due to the fact that we want the exhibition to be primarily visual, texts in the exhibition will be scarce. Only an introduction text will provide the viewer with the context of the exhibition: the occasion and motive together with the aim of the exhibition. Although the exhibition does not want to emphasize the accessory archival information, it will certainly not be withheld for the viewer. Through a colored bar on the base of each wall, titles, dates, photographers and their corresponding collections will be provided. In this way the focus will be on the visual storytelling instead of the historic side that goes together with these images, but if wanted, the visitor can turn to the information down at the bottom. This presentational mode makes the exhibition very open and accessible. The images can be approached by younger and older people as well as by educated and uneducated visitors. Weather you are a scholar, an anthropologist, a photography enthusiast or Amsterdam 6
As inspirational sources, think of the Atlasses of Aby Warburg: http://warburg.library.cornell.edu/, and Gerhard Richter: http://www.diaart.org/exhibitions/introduction/54.
Sketch foor exhibition in Fodorzaal 1
lover; anyone can relate to the visual language of the exhibition. This unity and poetic sphere will be increased by an open sound design that is produced by sound artist Nathalie Bruys (1975) who studied Audio Visuals at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. She will create sound art that is especially made for the exhibition related to the incorporated themes. By walking trough the exhibition the spectator will not only see but also feel and hear the city. Bruys’s philosophy matches well with ideas of the exhibition: she believes in the power of sound to free the listener from time and space and to take him or her into a world where there is no resistance and where everything is infinite.7 Downstairs in the ‘Lichthof’ passage, five computers will run the renewed visual library of the City Archive of Amsterdam. In this way, in a relative short period, a vast amount of visitors will be made familiar with the online possibilities of the website. After the closing of the exhibition, the website will function as the long-‐term platform where visitors can see, discover and take part in this visual playground. Above the computers on the wall the website address will be put on the wall in a huge font, so that it can’t escape the visitor’s attention. For the graphic design of the exhibition, we asked Van Onna, Verwoerd. They will take care of the entire branding of our project. We feel Van Onna, Verwoerd is an ideal fitting partner. Their communication is clear, fresh elementary and straightforward. They have worked for a variety of cultural institutions among others the Stimuleringsfonds (Dutch Creative Industries Fund), for which they designed a fresh looking visual identity. We feel Van Onna, Verwoerd is the right match, to help us create and communicate a new identity for the photo-‐archive.
For an example of her sound design, fitting our concept: http://vimeo.com/23145319
4. W E B S I T E Current state The City Archive of Amsterdam already has a website. One of the components of this website is an online visual archive. Here the visitor can search for various visual materials regarding Amsterdam; ranging from city maps, postcards to the photo documentary assignments. The development of this online archive clearly has been done with a lot of care and attention. However, in extension to the exhibitions attempt to reframe the character and possibilities regarding this visual archive, we feel it is necessary to improve the character of the website as well. While the concept of a website, to find, collect and share a collection of images, is very much of today, the style and design of the visual archive of the City Archive is fairly out-‐ dated. As the content is too much data-‐based -‐ with the icons and texts in small size, and quite some options with little overview -‐ you could say that the websites lay-‐out and structure is still a very traditional and conservative archival website. In order to really give ground to the new interpretation and potentials of the visual City Archive, we are recommending a renewal of the websites ‘outer shell’. In the current state, the visual archive provides quite some possibilities but is still very user-‐unfriendly. With its traditional format, searching in the archive is tough. Its design is not complementing its own content, allowing its visitors to miss opportunities and leaving special imagery out of sight. Concept The first impression is everything. We live in a society nowadays that we process information in a completely different way then only a few decades ago. We are confronted with images every day; we browse and select quickly what to take in or not. The internet has created a new way of going through information, jumping from one page to the other, hopping from one image to another, bringing us randomly to places we never would have found through traditional informational services.
Next to the traditional function of the archive as an informational source we would like the visual archive to become known as an autonomous platform for photography where one can search, explore and be surprised by the richness that is to be found. Therefor we are recommending a new design that will be recognisable, that is young and inviting and that will increase the usability of the website. Text should be less prominent, allowing the visual content to be the emphasis. Already the current website has implemented the possibility to share images on social media, to implement the images on your website, to select favourites in a folder, to filter images or in some cases to buy a print. These are already modern tools of which we are glad they are implemented. However, the design should bring these possibilities more to the foreground; making it a quickly, visually more attractive and popular to want to share these documents. Furthermore we would like to propose to make use of a tag-‐cloud. A tag-‐cloud is a way to make the content visual via words related to the images. The tags will alert the visitor to
Example of Tag Cloud
more search options and tags that are used more often will be displayed greater for example. We realise this is a more difficult tool to implement, because it has to be related to all the documents. However we wish to propose to implement this anyway. This is a long-‐ term project that can be formed over time. In order to provide a more intuitive and fluid search tool, we’d like to implement a tag cloud with more associative terms, such as love, sadness, red, dream, busy, strong, etc. These associative terms will approach the documents in a more abstract manner. With picking ‘red’ for example, visitors will not only be surprised by images that have red elements in them. ‘Red’, in this way, can also be related content wise or in a descriptive way. In the same way as the exhibition, an alternative history of Amsterdam is presented. Visitors are triggered to immediately start a spontaneous journey while browsing through the archive. In our opinion this would be an ideal way to create an alternative search approach to the documents.
Design For the website’s redesigning we would like to cooperate with Van Onna, Verwoerd, who will also do the graphic design for the exhibition. In this way we would like to create a clear coherence between the different platforms, creating a certain branding for the project. Of course the City Archive and the municipality will be consulted; making sure their interests will be met. Though we have some ideas of what we would like to with the design of the website, we will not provide sketches of the design in this proposal, for we are not the actual designers. There are a few websites and examples we will use as a reference during the development stage. What we are aiming for is that the image becomes the central focus point. The websites below are online image archives, archiving visual documents, and it’s immediately clear at first sight, the image is their central focus point. First comes the image, then come the data. You’re immediately tempted to browse through the images. http://www.luerzersarchive.net http://www.thisiscolossal.com/visual-‐archive http://www.visualarchive.hk/ Also Time Magazine has an inspiring approach as they present their former issues in relation to the present. Instead of specifically searching for an issue from a certain year, month or week, they chose for a visual approach, by using their covers as a main reference. Furthermore They take their current time and the current week, going back in periods of 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, up to 80 years ago, presenting the covers of the publications of those years in the exact same week. In this way the old publications take in their place, their relevance, in relation to the present. Though we do not want to literally implement this system, we do like the alternative approach to historical documents, it is an inspiring source.
Target groups The website is directed towards two target groups: the wider audience, and researchers. The wide audience can exists out of inhabitants of Amsterdam, curious about visual material
Example of Time Magazine
of their environment, public that is curious for image material related to the genealogy of their relatives, but also photography lovers from all over the world who are interested in the work of photographers such as Ata Kando, Ed van der Elsken or Viviane Sassen. Next to a wider audience we have the researchers, specifically using the archive for informational purposes. This group of researchers is formed by for example scholars, historicists, archaeologists or students. Where we feel that researchers will find there way to the visual archive, the wider audience might need to get familiar with it first. Therefor we are proposing an editorial element to the website. At least one editor should be related to the website. We want the editor to set out ‘assignments’ to Dutch celebrities as guest editors such as Silvia Witteman, Mathijs van Nieuwkerk, Arie Boomsma, Kluun, Carice van Houten & Halina Reijn, Youp van het Hek, etc. They can make their own personal selection complemented with a small background story. In this way the celebrities will represent the City Archive and promote the online website to a broader audience. People will be attracted by for example Robin van Persie to go and see his selection and get to know the existence of the visual archive. For both target groups it is of great importance that the base of the image archive is indeed visually orientated. By an excellent usability and attractive design, both target groups should become stimulated to go out and explore the archive and to make their search more sufficient, fun, touching and surprising.
Natura Artis Magistra, Plantage Middenlaan 40, polar bears in their new stay, 1976 -‐ Frank H.M. van der Heul Collection: photo-‐prints
5. S I D E P R O G R A M
S Y M P O S I U M What is the importance of photography assignments today? How valuable is the notion of an author for the creation of a social-‐historical document? And looking back at the past; does the assignment photography in the Netherlands contribute to the historiography of a city in a certain time? These are important issues that will be addressed in the Symposium Taking Pictures for the Future: Discussing visions on documentary photography assignments. The symposium is organized together with Amsterdam-‐based debate centre De Balie and its main goal is to breath new live into the discussion on the photography assignment policy in the Netherlands and therefor visual archiving in general as well. The symposium is aimed at the professionals who are dealing with these issues, but the program will also be open to artists, photographers and photography lovers who are interested. The City Archive of Amsterdam will be set as an example, but functions hereby mainly as a starting point towards an exploration of the entire Dutch field of documentary assignments. The pressing questions lingering in the field of visual archiving and photography assignments, that have been left unanswered for too long, will now be thrown into the arena, open for debate. The idea is to review the current policies and to determine whether they have been successful, to take on a critical view towards their current state and whether we should revise strategies. First focus will be on the goals and intentions of the archive or collection in relation to the documentary photography assignment policy that is set out by the institutes. Central question that will be discussed here are:
Content -‐ What should an archive collect today in order to generate a complete representation of the city? -‐ What is the importance of the photography assignments? (Relevance, construction of policy) -‐ In what way do the artistic assignments contribute to the imaging of a city? -‐ How should be dealt with the paradox of autonomous artistic freedom on the one hand and the need for a social-‐historical document on the other? -‐ Are we speaking here of registration or imagination? -‐ Does the author’s vision contribute to the story of a certain time or is it merely a personal storiette? -‐ Can author-‐driven photography be seen as an added value for a topographical archive? -‐ Is the author creator or subject? -‐ And thus, looking back at more than thirty years: how meaningful have these commissions been regarding the representation of a city in a certain time?
J.J.Viottastraat 36, home with jewish-‐historical interior, 2008 – Martin Alberts Collection: own photo-‐service
-‐ Has giving photo-‐documentary assignments been a success? Or should we revise strategies? -‐Is the current museum climate, in which visitor statistics and priority goals tend to become more important than the actual collecting, causing neglect towards the collections? Presentation -‐How should the archive preserve and present the collected visual documents? (The presentation platform of the future: presentation and registration systems: visual interfaces, tagging systems, user generated content, etc. Example of the Rijksmuseum and the Arab image foundation)) -‐ How should we deal with the clash between the concept of today (photography) and the style and form of yesterday (the archive). -‐ How should the collections be treated in future exhibitions? -‐How can we get the most out of these collections? (out of the box thinking for user purposes. Next to that, a closer look should be taken at the general policy, created to stimulate Dutch photography, with a close look at the substantive guidance of the photographer and the general question whether the original intent (the stimulation of the Dutch photography) is still valid. If so, is the contemporary notion of incentive still the same or should it be reframed? At what point becomes the assignment a subsidy for a personal project rather than an encouraging stimulant? And, How is the substantive guidance currently set up, and is this effective? A close look will be given to examples of international initiatives, such as the Swedish organisation Samdok, and the Arab Image Foundation. Samdok is founded in 1977 by the Nordic Museum and the Musuem of Cultural History, who wished to cooperate on the collection of material, geared to the present day. Their initiative to systematically collect a visual document of the Swedish Society could be seen as a leading example. They previously organized an international conference on the topic in 2007. The Arab Image Foundation is a non-‐profit organization established in Beirut in 1997. Its mission is to collect, preserve and study photographs from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora. The AIF’s expanding collection is generated through artist and scholar-‐led projects. The Foundation makes its collection accessible to the public through a wide spectrum of activities, including exhibitions, publications, videos, a website and an online image database. Selected Guest Speakers are: Wim Vroom Wim Vroom is former director of the Department of Dutch History at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and former chief Atlas at the City Archive of Amsterdam. He stood at the base of the assignments of the City Archive in the first part of the 70s, and transferred to the Rijksmuseum in 1975, where he realised a similar assignment policy. In 1995 Wim Vroom left the Rijksmuseum.
Hripsime Visser Since 1990, Hripsimé Visser has been the photo curator of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. She studied art history, with a specialisation in photography, at the university of Leiden. Before Visser started working for Stedelijk Museum, she worked for Perspektief: a former, centre for photography in Rotterdam, that has played an important role in the development of Dutch, Rotterdam based, photography in the 80’s and early 90’s. Visser has published many books on photography, gives lectures and is member on several boards and advisory committees related to photography. She wrote several texts on the photography commission climate in the Netherlands, amongst others for former photography journal Perspektief and the introduction to Zeventien Visies op Noord-‐Holland: Fotodocumentaire opdrachten 1991-‐1995. (1996) Anneke van Veen Anneke van Veen is the current curator of photographs at the City Archive of Amsterdam. She is closely involved with the assignments and has edited several exhibitions of the assignments. She is an expert in the field and has written a lot about the subject. Joep Neefjes Joep Neefjes is a visual artist/photographer, and is known for his ‘fictional’ press agency Loodwicks Press Images, a sort of pseudonym that he uses to excite. He likes to put people on the wrong track with his work. He regularly works with archival material. Only recently, at the end of 2013, he curated the jubilee exhibition Unintended Photography, in the Dutch Photo Museum in Rotterdam, composed by images from their archive. As an artist, who regularly works with archival material, and who plays with the concept of fiction and reality and the notion of history, and because of his thought provoking ideas, Neefjes might bring a n interesting alternative view to the debate. Christina Mattson Christina Mattson is director of the Nordic Museum and chair of the Samdok Council. Samdok is a shared resource for museums in Sweden, and its aim is to create an international forum for dialogue and collaboration on collection matters. Mattson argues that international cooperation is necessary, particular in times when resources are scarce. Akram Zaatari Akram Zaatari is a filmmaker, photographer, archival artist and curator, based in Beirut. He is also founding member of the Arab Image Foundation. Zaatari is interested in the notion of collecting as an art practice. He focused on studying and archiving the photographic work of the Saida-‐based photographer Hashem el Madani (1928), as a register of social relationships and photographic practices. Zaatari would be an interesting guest speaker since he has roots in archiving and collecting from an artist perspective combined with an archival background.
Drag disco/costume party La Night aux Folles in disco Flora Palace, Amstelstraat 24 The yields of the party will go to the research on AIDS, 1983 – Erwin Olaf Collection: photo-‐prints
Wim Vroom, Hripsime Visser en Anneke van Veen, are well known names in the debate. They have been and are closely related to the photo documentary assignment and the presentation of these collections, and have written a lot about the commission policy. It is important to invite these people, involved from the beginnings. However, to bring in fresh, and perhaps alternative views to the discussion, we feel that Joep Neefjes, Christina Mattson and Akram Zaatari can add some serious value to the debate.
G U I D E D T O U R S Guided Tours by well known Amsterdam locals will attract visitors who would like to view the exhibition from a different perspective. Each Guide will provide his or her own fresh perspective on the exhibition. Among others: * Well-‐known fashion designer Bas Kosters (1977) will guide the public through the exhibition while his focus will be on fashion, colour, form, and shaping identity. * Fidan Ekiz (1976) is a Dutch journalist and documentary maker from Turkish descent. In her tour she will put the emphasis on social relationships and the variety of Amsterdam people. * Vincent Robert Bijlo (1965) is a Dutch comedian and writer. Bijlo is also blind since his birth and so his tour will be targeted towards blind and visually impaired people.
Visual Identity of the Stimuleringsfonds by Van Onna, Verwoerd
6. C O M M U N I C A T I O N & M A R K E T I N G
The media campaign entails three parts: one part is generating (free) publicity for the exhibition with the goal to attract as many visitors as possible. Part two is directed towards the launch of the revised website, with the aim to generate wide public awareness of the new image of the Visual City Archive of Amsterdam and its true value. The last part is aimed at the possible prospective audience for the symposium. Since we are exhibiting in Foam, they will take care of a great part of the publicity for the exhibition, using their own communication team, channels and press file, aiming at maximum visibility in press, radio and tv, digital channels, etc. However, next to that we’d like to include a media partner who will contribute to the promotion and visibility of the exhibition, website and side programming. Possible partner is nrc.next, the tabloid edition of NRC Handelsblad, targeted at a younger audience. They daily place an image in the printed version under the rubric In beeld, a spread dedicated to photos that are meant to surprise and intrigue. Furthermore they have an online rubric dedicated to photography. This would be an ideal partner, for their shared interest in photography and culture in general, their young target group and the possibility to include parts of the planned publications in their tabloid.
T A R G E T G R O U P S Target Groups of the Exhibition (Including guided tours) For the exhibition we hope to reach a wide audience. Important focus point though is to attract the young urban culture lovers (16-‐35). The target groups we will further be aiming at are: -‐ photography lovers -‐ art and culture lovers -‐ young urban townsmen (20-‐50) -‐ the Amsterdam inhabitant. (Of all ages) -‐ the professionally involved, such as professionals out of the field of photography, those who worked in the field of photo-‐assignments and visual archiving, art critics, as well as those who work in the field of history for example. -‐ tourists of Amsterdam Target Groups of the Website The website aims at a wide audience as well. The idea is that the website will function as a long-‐term platform for photography. We would like to involve a younger audience to visit the website regularly. Therefore the website is again aimed at similar target groups of the exhibition, except for the tourists. Furthermore the website of course still functions as the city archive through which professional researchers, historians and students can easily browse and collect, as well as amateur researchers and Amsterdam citizens who would like
to consult the website for example out of genealogical interest. Target Groups of the Symposium Though the symposium is open to all, it clearly has a different target group than the other platforms. The discussion will be held at a professional level, therefore we expect the audience to have certain background knowledge. The target groups are: -‐ (Prospective) Professionals in the field of photography, commissioning, archiving and history. -‐ Amateur connaiseurs.
C O M M U N I C A T I O N P L A N Most communication will have to be generated through free publicity, word of mouth, viral marketing, barter deals and joint promotion. The opening of the exhibition and symposium will play an important part in the launching of the word of mouth communication. During the duration of the exhibition, actualities will keep the interest for RENDEZVOUS animated. Important is to communicate the aesthetic, poetic playfulness of the exhibition; the new, fresh, visual approach to the history of Amsterdam and to the visual archive. Principles and objectives for communication of Foam Foam is striving within her campaign to: -‐ generate constant visibility around all RENDEZVOUS products with the correct target groups. -‐ To increase brand awareness of the museum with the young public. -‐ To increase and secure brand awareness of the museum in general.
E X H I B I T I O N Young Culture Lovers In order to clearly communicate the artistic, trendy, visual character of the exhibition towards the young culture lovers, next to the communication of Foam and nrc.next. we will emphasize the publicity in specific media with a young cultural audience: New Dawn, Glamcult, Hard/hoofd.nl, Amsterdam Curated, Vogue, CultuurBewust.nl, Blend Magazine, Subbacultcha!, and CJP magazine. Next to that we will also place banners on the websites of the abovementioned channels. Photography lovers/art and culture lovers/ young urban townsmen (20-‐50)/The Amsterdam inhabitant (Of all ages) For these target groups we will aim at more general culture platforms. Hopefully we can generate free publicity within television shows as De Wereld Draait Door, Opium TV,
Example for website campaign together with Heijdens Karwij
Kunststof TV and Radio. Of course Foam has a wide press file with a very broad range of communication channels. Their posters are an important communication tool. The communication tools used for this exhibition are: -‐ -‐ -‐ -‐ -‐ -‐ -‐ -‐
The printed invitation for the opening of the exhibition Event page on Facebook for the opening General attention through the Foam Facebookpage and Twitter Account, urging people to come through teasers A billboard-‐campaign of Foam, spreaded throughout the Netherlands Mentioning of the exhibition in online agenda on Foam Website Mentioning of the exhibition in digital newsletter of Foam (more than 5000 subscribers / sent every two weeks) Mentioning of the exhibition in Foam Magazine Pushing notifications on the exhibition through the website, Facebook and Twitter accounts of the City Archive of Amsterdam, urging people to come through teasers.
During the Opening there will be a poetry performance by the city poet of 2014: Anna Enquist (1945). This will draw not only photography lovers but also people interested in other fields. Of course we will invite important people within the field: photography critics, bloggers, celebrities, which will hopefully generate word of mouth and free publicity through blogs and the twitter accounts of the celebrities.
W E B S I T E The website is another story. The website is not just meant as an informational source to back up the exhibition, but is meant to become accepted as an alternative autonomous photography platform, worth paying a visit, next to the informational function of the archive, also for pure pleasure. Therefore it is important to create a strong brand awareness with the audience, communicating the fresh, trendy, visual character of the revised website. This will not be done by Foam, but through the visual identity designed by Van Onna, Verwoerd, in cooperation with the City Archive of Amsterdam, and hopefully with the help of IAmsterdam. In order to do so we work in two stages. First the exhibition will bring (new) attention to the City Archive, which will have a positive effect on the visitor’s perception of the archive. As said before, during the exhibition there will be computers available to consult the website, and the web address will clearly be communicated. After the exhibition we will launch a special campaign to promote the website. Within Amsterdam we will do this with a special campaign in association with Heijdens Karwij and nrc.next. In 2007 these two already cooperated on an outdoor exhibition during the photo festival in Naarden. nrc.next. exhibited a selection of their In beeld spreads, designed by Heijdens Karwij. They designed an outdoor exhibition using a special material that can be glued to the pavement. The effect was such that it appeared as if someone had lost a
newspaper, sheet by sheet. The blown up photographs were pasted on footpaths throughout Naarden.8 This same concept we would like to apply to the website, showing different images from the image archive at random locations through Amsterdam. With the images a QR-‐code will be added. If the people follow the QR-‐code, they will be redirected to the website. Other than that we will use Boomerang cards, that will be spread Nationwide, and will advertise on several of the before mentioned websites and will turn again to the free papers such as New Dawn and Glamcult. Furthermore there will be created a new Facebookpage, related to the website, through which there will be a constant communication, about for example articles by guest editors, etc. 8
S Y M P O S I U M The side program will also create its own publicity, in cooperation with the City Archive and De Balie. The communication tools used for this symposium are: -‐ -‐
The printed invitation for the symposium General attention through the Foam Facebookpage and Twitter Account, urging people to come through teasers. -‐ Mentioning of the symposium in online agenda on Foam Website -‐ Mentioning of the exhibition in digital newsletter of Foam (more than 5000 subscribers / sent every two weeks -‐ Pushing notifications on the exhibition through the website, Facebook and Twitter accounts of the City Archive of Amsterdam, urging people to come through teasers. -‐ The website, twitter and Facebook account and other communication tools of De Balie -‐ The social networks of several professional platforms related to the field of photography, museums, and archiving, such as YdocAgenda, PhotoQ, and Foam Magazine. Visitors with an entrance ticket of the City Archive of Amsterdam can get free entrance to Foam and vice versa. This will encourage the different target groups of the museums to visit both institutes.
Aerial photograph from the Amsterdam forest, 1970 – photographer unknown Collection: urban and spatial planning
7. P A R T N E R S & C O O P E R A T I N G P A R T I E S Laura van Rijs(1988) curated her first group exhibition All The Things You Are during her studies Documentary Photography at the Art Acadamy of Utrecht, with work of Jaap Scheeren, Sara Blokland, Maria Dabrowski en Milou Abel, in the Academiegalerie in Utrecht (2011). After her studies she decided to gain more experience as a curator and did amongst others an Internship at Foam. Here she assisted the curator and assistant-‐curator with their daily tasks and was responsible for the project management of several exhibitions. Since September 2013 she’s studying her master in Film and Photographic Studies at Leiden University. May 2014 the group exhibition Staged City will be opening, in the artist society Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam. This exhibition she developed together will photographer and filmmaker Petra Noordkamp. Mylaine Roelofs (1986) started as a student at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute at the department Design and Styling (2004). Here she was introduced to the great photographers in the field of fashion. She then realised that she was actually more passionate about photography, rather than the fashion in the images. She then switched studies to Editing and Media Production (2005-‐2009). Here she was trained as an image editor for the publishing field. During and after her studies she did several internships, amongst others at publishing houses De Bezige Bij and Amstel Uitgevers, and KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Film Festival, where she gained experience as an assistant to the Rights Manager(BB), and foremost in traffic management of publications(Amstel and KLIK!). In 2009 she went to Portsmouth England, where she studied a year of English Film and Literature Studies at the University of Portsmouth. Since 2012 she’s studying a master in Film and Photographic Studies at Leiden University, where she’s specializing in editorial and curatorial work, under the guidance of Bas Vroege. Het Stadsarchief Het Stadsarchief (City Archive of Amsterdam) is the historical documentation centre of Amsterdam with 35 kilometer of archives, a historical-‐topographical collection with million’s of maps, drawings and prints, a library and a broad collection of film, sounds and photography archives. For more information see the introduction and background chapters of this application. Foam Foam (Photography Museum Amsterdam) opened its doors in 2001. The institution, located on the Keizersgracht in the former, now finely renovated Museum Fodor, focuses on the presentation of photography in the broadest sense of the term, to a wide audience. De Balie De Balie is a platform for the freedom of speech, contemporary art, debate and culture,
Sandra, Oudezijds Voorburgwal, 1992 – Bart Sorgedrager Collection: Documentary Photo-‐Assignment
located at the Leidseplein in Amsterdam. In thirty years De Balie has florished into phenomenon ot een fenomeen op het gebied van spraakmakende debatten en (kunst)projecten nrc.next In 2006 NRC launched this tabloid version of the NRC. The newspaper is innovative and focused on the future. Not established, but rather continuously developing. Their target group is young (and old, but mostly directed at a younger public), unprejudiced, and open minded. They see it as their task to help their readers with their products and services to know better, to think better and to do better. They have a photography rubric, both in the printed version as well as on their website, called In beeld. Amsterdam marketing / I Amsterdam This is the city marketing organisation of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, active in the fields of promotion, information, research and services. Their ambition is to put this region on the map as one of the five most attractive metropolitan areas in Europe for its residents, visitors, businesses and influential groups. Under the motto ‘I amsterdam’, they present the region as a dynamic place to live and work, an attractive travel destination and a test market for innovation. This not only has a positive influence on the city’s public image internationally but also for local residents, boosting their sense of civic pride and appreciation. To achieve this, they work together with public and private organisations, cultural institutions and universities. Van Onna, Verwoerd This small design studio (start-‐up 2012) run by Niki and Johannes (surnames unknown), creates communication for all kinds of media. They work for clients in different segments of the market. Johannes and Nikki go back a long way. They joined forces after two projects they did together. In the past Nikki worked for 't Brandt Weer, NLXL and Studio Dumbar. Johannes worked for Frame Publishers and received the startstipendia two rows running from the Mondriaan Fund. Nathalie Bruys (1975) is specialized in sound art and makes soundtracks, compositions, performances, installations, drawings/collage, animation, videos, costumes, stage objects, sound walks, vinyl and cd’s. Is sound art curator and performs as a DJ. She explores the possibilities of sound as a medium within the context of the visual arts. She believes that the intrinsic power of sound can completely transcend the listener from time and place into an eternal world. She is specialized in sound art and makes soundtracks, music, radio, performances, installations, videos, vinyl and cds. She also performs as a DJ. Bruys focuses on the interaction and resonating relationship between invisible sound and the visual manifestation of it, preferably creating and overall experience in the form of spacious, multi-‐layered installations. She investigates the transcending power of sound and the sonic dimension. It is important to her that the audience develops an awareness of sound and a conscious experience of it in her work. By relating sound to other tactile domains, Bruys extends the complex tangible dimension of sound.
Interior of the City Archive of Amsterdam, 2003 – Petra Noordkamp Collection: photo-‐documentary assignments
Nickel van Duijvenboden (1981) was educated as a photographer, but turned to writing after his studies. He investigates forms of writings that border on visual art. In 2003 he published a collection of essays, The Grand Absence, and graduated as a 'photographer without photographs' at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (NL). He teaches at the Photo Department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and supervised the second year's photography students taking part in the What's Next? project initiated by Foam. Heijdens Karwij This design agency, run by Sandra van der Doelen and Teun van der Heijden, is specialized in publications on photography. They have won many design awards, and have previously cooperated with nrc.next. Vandejong Vandejong is a creative agency based in Amsterdam. On April 1st 2014, Vandejong will have existed for 25 years. They are a long term partner of Foam in their communication strategy, and they also design Foam Magazine. They develop new formats for an ever-‐changing world. With their interdisciplinary team of creative strategists, business experts, graphic and online designers, copywriters, and researchers, they help organizations to transform and reconnect with their community. They develop challenging ideas which we translate into economically sustainable formats. These formats enable organizations to establish meaningful relationships with their public. They can take on different forms and can consist of concepts, brands, campaigns or strategies.
Gaper in de Weert, 1993 – photographer unknown Collection: plagues, reproductions and images
F I N A N C E S A project like this has a bigger chance at succeeding when a collective of partners carry the load. Foam brings in an important part of the finances. With their expertise and track records, they furthermore support the funding application process. The Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunsten and the Mondriaanfonds are being adressed with the request for financial support. With the potential of our project subject to attract a wide audience, and a special link to Amsterdam, we have been able to arrange cooperation with the nrc.next. and IAmsterdam to help with further support. nrc.next has a great interest in photography, and art in general, and our target groups are amongst their readers. IAmsterdam is there to support and promote cultural activities in and about Amsterdam. Furthermore the Amsterdam City Archive itself has agreed to support anywhere possible, within the reach of their (financial) power. With the support of the funding institutions, with the help of the concerned parties, a media partner and several sponsors, we strive towards a project of high quality, which will hopefully eventually lead to the general acceptance of a new approach towards archive exhibitions (or at least breath in new live to the debate), to a new fresh image of the (online) Amsterdam City Archive, and to a wide spread awareness of the website as a long term autonomous platform for photography lovers.