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Online Masterclass

Contemporary Photography and the Environment with Kim Knoppers on Vimeo on Demand

The outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic prompts us to think about humans as the dominant and invasive species in an ecosystem that is under pressure. Our disenchanted, secular and rational world has little room for magic and for sensitivity to flora and fauna for their own sake.

Curator, writer and art historian Kim Knoppers takes us on her own journey in search of a closer connection with the earth and non-human beings through photography. How can we reconnect with the great conversation between humans and the rest of nature? How can we understand and respect nature, comprehend our place in the whole and experience nature as part of ourselves? To answer these big questions we desperately need the imagination of writers and imagemakers. In this masterclass Knoppers tries to find out how the camera is used to create an animated language of images that attempts to engage our entire being with the earth and non-humans. She charts her questioning by focusing on the work of writers like Paul Kingsnorth and Eva Meijer and visual artists and photographers such as Melanie Bonajo, Jonathas de Andrade, Zheng Bo, Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky, Sheng-Wen Lo and Suzette Bousema.

Kim Knoppers is a curator at Foam in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She has worked on solo exhibitions by contemporary photographers including Melanie Bonajo, Anne de Vries, Lorenzo Vitturi, Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs and Sheng-Wen Lo. and group exhibitions such as Collectivism – Artists’ Collectives and Their Quest for Value (2017). She is also interested in bridging the (artificial) gap between historical and contemporary photography through a transhistorical approach to curating, such as in the exhibition Back to the Future: The 19th Century in the 21st Century (2018). In collaboration with scholars, curators and collectors, she has initiated a series of exhibitions on historical photography studios worldwide, their photographic archives and their meaning for our contemporary world. Kim is a lecturer on the MA Photography program at ECAL in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she initiated and developed the course Do Not Disturb – Curating in Progress. She lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (with a view on a highway) and in Selçuk, Turkey (with the remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, in the backyard).

Watch on Vimeo on Demand

©  Sheng-Wen Lo, Extendable Ears


Topics covered in class:

A – Relationship with the land

I. Exhibitions

Ursula Biemann & Paulo Tavares, Forest Law – Bak, Utrecht (2015).
Melanie Bonajo, Night Soil – Foam (2016).

B – Imagining, Technology and the Natural World

I. Books

Koert van Mensvoort – Next Nature. Waarom technologie onze natuurlijke tioekomst is (Maven Publishing, 2019).

II. Exhibitions

On Earth – Imaging, Technology and the Natural World – Le Lieu Unique, Nantes (2020).

C – Non-Human Persons 

I. Books

Duncan Forbes and Daniela Janser – Beastly (Spector Books, 2015 *exhibition catalogue).
John Berger – Why Look at Animal? (Penguin Books – Great Ideas, 2009).
Eva Meijer – De soldaat was een dolfijn. Over politieke dieren. (Cossee, 2017).
Filipa Ramos – Animals. Documents of Contemporary Art series (Whitechapel Gallery, 2016).
Jonathan Safran Foer – Eating Animals (Little, Brown and Company, 2009).

II. Videos

Sheng-Wen Lo, Extendable Ears, Foam 3H

III. Exhibitions

Melanie Bonajo: Single Mother Songs from the End of Nature – Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt (2017).

D – Universe of the Plants

I. Books

Stefan Mancuso – The Nation of Plants (Atria, 2018).
Carlos Magdalena – The Plant Messiah (Viking, 2017).

E – Direct Imprint of Natural Phenomena

I. Exhibitions

Back to the Future – The 19th century in the 21st century – Foam, Amsterdam (2018).
Cinnamon Colomboscope. RE / EVOLUTION. Former – Colomboscope Terminus Railway Station, Colombo (2017).
Florachromes: a story of four rivers – Huis Marseille, Amsterdam (2020).

F – The Deep Sea:  An Oceanic Feeling

I. Videos

My Octopus Teacher, Netflix

G – Deep Time: A Conclusion

Robert Macfarlane – Ness (Penguin Books, 2019).
Jeanne Aubert, Last Song of the Earth


Ursula Biemann
Paulo Tavares
Melanie Bonajo
Lucas Foglia
Anne de Vries
Mark Dorf
Sheng-Wen Lo
Jonathas de Andrade
Kinga Kielczinska
Zheng Bo
Almudena Romero
Anna Atkins
Sam Falls
Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky
Arja Hop and Peter Svenson
Douglas Mandry
Suzette Bousema
Elspeth Diederix
Thirza Schaap
Fabio Barile
Stelios Kallinikou
Awoiska van der Molen
Jenne Aubert

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