Picture Presence: New Conceptions of Space and Place in Contemporary Photography



IUAV, University of Venice, Aula Tafuri (IT)
M-Museum Leuven, Forum (BE)

"You can constantly question my images: there are new stories in them every time" –Dirk Braeckman

Working with analogue photography, Braeckman explores the boundaries of his medium and challenges photographic conventions. His work reflects on the act of viewing and the status of the image.

The symposium Picture Presence takes the solo exhibition of Dirk Braeckman at the Belgian Pavilion of the 2017 Venice Biennale as a point of departure. Although analog photography is his principal medium, since the late 1990s Braeckman’s 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. From the observation that today photography more than ever before interacts with its environment, 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 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?
  • 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?

Speakers include: Cristina Baldacci (ICI Berlin), Marcel Berlanger (artist), Dirk Braeckman (artist), Peter Geimer (Freie Universität Berlin), Virginia Heckert (The Getty), Steven Jacobs (Ghent University – University of Antwerp), Frederik Maes (KU Leuven), Antoni Muntadas (IUAV University of Venice), Bas Princen (artist), Olga Smith (University of Warwick), Ernst van Alphen (Leiden University), Clarissa Ricci (IUAV University of Venice), Hubertus von Amelunxen (The European Graduate School), Helen Westgeest (Leiden University).

Symposium committee: Geert Bouckaert, Liesbeth Decan, Jana J. Haeckel, Nicola Setari, Hilde Van Gelder, Angela Vettese and Eva Wittocx

Many thanks to Liesbeth Decan and Nicola Setari for providing the concept of this symposium and bringing together all following partners for the organization of this important event: M-Museum Leuven, KU Leuven, LUCA School of Arts, Lieven Gevaert Centre and IUAV University of Venice.

Lieven Gevaert Centre
KU Leuven, Faculty of Arts
Blijde Inkomststraat 21 pb 3313
B-3000 Leuven

Lieven Gevaert Centre
UC Louvain, Archéologie et d'histoire d'art
FIAL - Place Blaise Pascal 1 bte L3.03.13
B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve