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A system among others? Power, Balance, Self-Reflection on and with the Photographic Image

30. 09. 2021

Symposium organized by Landskrona teater

Landskrona Teater, Järnvägsgatan 4D, 261 32 Landskrona, Sweden

What more

Photographic images, especially in series, essays or other kind of visual narratives, and social sciences research afford us insights into systems at the societal, institutional, group, or individual levels that otherwise would be disregarded as physical and social realities. However, in order to portray and convey the realities of such systems, recognizable individuals sharing their life, insights and emotional conditions are often depicted (photographed or studied) by other individuals than those documented. Documenting realities of different systems raises questions around the purpose and power of the photographic image. As has been evident since the late 19th century, documentary photography can reveal unpleasant truths by capturing a variety of events that many would prefer to ignore and in that sense potentially become a tool for political change. But the genre and its practitioners has also been rightly criticised – consistently since the 1980s – from feminist and post-colonial positions for risking of silencing, victimising or exploiting their subjects.   Gaining knowledge about different systems, contexts, and cultures is an aim for both social science research and social documentary photography. Although the techniques, practices and outcomes are different, both struggle with similar basic issues, issues that are also ethical: Can we claim that what we study / describe offers a ”truthful” depiction? What and who is included and what is excluded in the “framing”? What is our own role in the image we convey of what we study or document? To what extend can we give a credible picture of something we are not a part of (or at best, only temporarily a part of)? And to what extent are we creating our own interpretive precedence and our own ”reality”? How do we as researchers and photographers avoid exercising symbolic violence over those we study and document via photography? How can we collaborate with and learn from the “reality” of the social groups we study or document?   This symposium challenges us as photographers, researchers and viewers to be self-reflexive and engage in dialogue about ethical responsiveness and inclusive strategies in image and knowledge production.



Coffee and registration


Welcome by Jenny Nordquist (Landskrona Foto), Britt-Marie Johansson & Christopher Mathieu (Department of Sociology, Lund University) and Louise Wolthers (Hasselblad Foundation)


Keynote Speaker: ”Confessions of a bordering actor, vol. 2: On the politics and ethics of vision, visualization and scholarship in Gaza and Northern Finland.” Laura Junka-Aikio (Photographer and researcher in political and cultural studies, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellow at Tromsø University Museum, Arctic University of Norway (UiT)


Negotiating research: Studying Sámi Photographs as Norwegian Outsiders. Sigrid Lien ( Proffessor of Art History, Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies, University of Bergen, Norway) and Hilde Wallem Nielssen (Social anthropologist and Professor of Intercultural Studies, NLA University College Bergen, Norway.   Re-framing Photographic Archives: Archaeological photography and the construction of knowledge. Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert (Associate Professor at the School of Fine and Applied Arts at the Cyprus University of Technology/ Museum Lab Leader, CYENS Center of Excellence)   Online presentation: The Participatory Photo Workshop as Image Production and Storytelling in Contemporary Greenland. Mette Sandbye (Professor at Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen) & Tina Enghoff (Visual Artist)   Online presentation: Approaches to Indian Photography Through the Lens of Sham Sunder Das: A comparative study on Western and Indian photographic aesthetics. Ankana Sen (Ph.D, Research Scholar, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, India) Dr. Deepak J Mathew, (Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, India)




In connection with the symposium, Landskrona Foto will host photographer Kent Klich`s exhibition A Tree Called Home a social documentary photographic study of a PNI (Psycho-neurological asylum) in Russia that Kent Klich followed and documented for 17 years. This exhibit raises among others the issues of power relations between individuals, roles and systems. It challenges us about how we equip ourselves to and carry out ethical decision-making processes regarding the vulnerable and disenfranchised who cannot express their will in such process, as well as the social and ethical imperative to investigate, document, and convey the existence of oppression in society, be it our own or others, and the singular force and complementarity of the photographic image and the written word.