Click here to open

What's Next?

The Future of the Photography Museum

Foam press release | 17 October 2011

What's Next?
The Future of the Photography Museum
Guest curators: Lauren Cornell, Jefferson Hack, Erik Kessels, Alison Nordström
5 november - 7 december 2011

Four concepts, four guest curators, four visionary presentations and one museum in which they all come together.

Foam is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. For this occasion, Foam has created 'What's Next?', a project exploring the future of photography. Foam has posed the question of 'what's next?' throughout this anniversary year to a variety of people in a variety of locations. What will the future of photography bring? For photographers? For photography institutions? For Foam? The Future of the Photography Museum exhibition marks the conclusion of this investigation and of Foam's anniversary year.

For a month, Foam will be different than usual. During the entire month of November, Foam is offering its visitors a glimpse into the future of a photography museum. In The Future of the Photography Museum, Foam explores not only how photography can be shown in the form of an exhibition, but also how audiences can be made partners in numerous activities. Presenting, informing and participating; the exhibition offers a unique visual experience on every level as well as a great deal of material for thought.

For The Future of the Photography Museum, Foam has invited four guest curators in the field of international culture, each of whom has interpreted the theme in their own way. The result is an intriguing exhibition with four distinct and sometimes provocative presentations.

The guest curators are:

Lauren Cornell (New Museum, NY) | Photography and multimedia
In a visual economy with an abundance of images and exhibitions, a photo is not only read and remembered in relation to its subject matter, but also through the moment of discovery, classification and the interplay of forces in which meaning is created. In her presentation, Cornell exhibits images by photographers who show the effect that the limitless circulation of images has on the meaning of photography. She accomplishes this with works by a new generation of artists who do not view themselves primarily as photographers, but who make use of photography in combination with other media, such as video, internet and installations.

Jefferson Hack (Dazed & Confused, London) | Photography as image
The digitalisation of photography has freed the medium from the tangible, physical object. Thus, photography is now predominantly viewed as purely image, experienced via screens and projections.  In two large-scale sculptures entitled 'Mother Sculpture' and 'Rise Sculpture', created from dozens of monitors, Hack shows new work by photographers who have long worked for his magazine Dazed&Confused. However, he also provides space for new talent. Work by established names, young photographers and amateurs are explored in a presentation which incorporates the newest technology and interactivity as well.

Erik Kessels (KesselsKramer, Amsterdam) | Photography in abundance
Through the digitalisation of photography and the rise of sites such as Flickr and Facebook, everyone now takes photos, and distributes and shares them with the world - the result is countless photos at our disposal. Kessels visualises 'drowning in pictures of the experiences of others', by printing all the images that were posted on Flickr during a 24-hour period and dumping them in the exhibition space. The end result is an overwhelming presentation of a million prints.

Alison Nordström (George Eastman House, NY) | Photography as object
It isn't the image, but the object itself that we write on, tear up in anger, kiss or touch, that we keep in our wallet, beside our bed or hang up on the fridge. And museums preserve, maintain and catalogue this object. Part of the power of photos is that they survive us, and their meaning changes with time and place. Nordström's selection from the George Eastman House collection - with images from nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries - emphasises the value of the physical print as a source of information within the museum as a place for concentration, study and reflection.

A museum, however, consists of more than just exhibitions. In addition to the museum galleries with the theme of 'Presenting', other spaces in the museum have been specifically designed with a clear focus during The Future of the Photography Museum. The theme of the entrance hall and the library on the third floor is 'Branding', an important aspect of the contemporary museum. The young people of Foam Lab have carried out a critical investigation here. A 'What's Next?' study and information centre has been created in the front galleries, and given the title: 'Informing', so that visitors can read about, consider and discuss the future of photography. The focus of the atrium  is 'Activating' - here visitors can become active participants instead of passive observers.
News and activities on the What's Next? website are updated regularly. Go to /whatsnext for the latest information.

What's Next? has been made possible with the support of: the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Oschatz Visuelle Medien, BeamSystems, AgentschapNL, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Dienst Maatschappelijke Ontwikkeling, Eizo high-end-monitors, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mondriaan Foundation, Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Sony Ericsson, SNS Reaalfonds and VSBFonds.

Note to editors: For more information and visual material please contact our press department (communications) foam[at] / +31 20 5516500.

Foam is sponsored by the BankGiro Loterij, the VandenEnde Foundation and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek.


Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS Amsterdam
+ 31 20 5516500