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07 Apr 2019

Symposium: The Female Perspective in Documentary Photography

On April 7, Cobra Museum of Modern Art organises in collaboration with FOTODOK a symposium on the role of the female photographer in documentary photography. This symposium will be held in context of the exhibition ‘Kati Horna, Compassion and Engagement’ and the presentations of the work of Eva Besnyö and Ata Kandó.

Is there an equal opportunity for female photographers, without them being stuck in the shadow of their male colleagues? Does a female perspective in photography exist? What can we learn from the ‘rediscovery’ of Kati Horna’s work, in relation to the way we view the history of documentary photography? Has the position of female photographers in the world of documentary photography changed ever since?  

Photo: Amak Mahmoodian



The symposium ‘The Female Perspective in Documentary Photography’ takes place on Sunday the 7th of April. The topic will be explored during the symposium through lectures, conversations, artist talks and museum tours which are guided by four different professionals, all from their own perspective.

The biggest part of the symposium will be held in English. The symposium will be hosted by Delphine Bedel. She is an artist, lecturer, editor and publisher, who specialised in emerging practices in photography, design and publishing. In 2018 Bedel was one of the main contributors to How we See: Photobooks by Woman.

The symposium starts at 11. You can enter the museum at 10:30

UPDATED! Programma

11.00 Welcome by Cobra Museum & FOTODOK
11.02 How women invented the photobook by Delphine Bedel
11.45 Maja Daniels presents her work
12.20 Tours through the exhibition by Kati Horna in 4 groups. All tour guides have a different background relevant for the exhibition
13.45 Ilvy Nijokiktjien presents Born Free: Nelson Mandela’s Generation of Hope
14.10 Keynote by Whitney Johnson
14.45 Mary F. Carvert presents her work
15.15 Amak Mahmoodian presents her work
15.55 Olivia Harris presents her work
16.30 Panel dialogue with the guests, moderation Delphine Bedel
17.00 Drinks

Key note speaker: Whitney c. Johnson

Whitney C. Johnson, this year’s chair of the WorPressPhoto jury, is the Vice President, Visuals and Immersive Experiences at National Geographic. Prior to joining the magazine, she was the director of photography at The New Yorker where her work was widely recognized, earning awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors; Awards of Excellence from the Society of Publication Designers; and a Peabody, in collaboration with Human Rights Watch and the photographer Platon. Johnson received a BA in American Literature from Barnard College, and completed MA coursework in American Studies at Columbia University. She serves on the boards of the Alexia Foundation and the W. Eugene Smith Fund. She was a former Jury member of the World Press Photo Contest.

Whitney C. Johnson will give an insight into the development of female photographers in the edition of this year WPP. But she also will sketch a broader perspective in the history, the development and the future of female documentary photographers  in general.

Whitney C. Johnson by © Mark Theissen/National Geographic

Presentations by four influential international female photographers

Four photographers present their own work during the symposium on 7 April and explain how they view the subject. Can certain work only be made by female photographers? Why is it important that female photographers also work in conflict areas. What challenges do they experience in their work. What is important to pay attention to and to work on on this subject?

Amak Mahmoodian (Iran)
Photographer and filmmaker, born in Shiraz, lives in Bristol (UK). In her work, Mahmoodian questions identity and gives social topics a central place in personal stories. Mahmoodian has won various international prizes and her work can be seen worldwide.

Maja Daniels (Sweden)
Swedish photographer who studied journalism and sociology in addition to photography. In her work, Daniels  focuses on the relationship between people. She is particularly interested in subjects where the body plays a role in relation to identity.

© Maja Daniels

Mary F Calvert (USA)
Photojournalist Mary F. Calvert wants to achieve social change with her photography. Calvert is best known for her work in which she highlights human rights from a gender perspective. She is a prize winner in the recent World Press Photo competition with her work on sexual abuse in the US Army.

Olivia Harris (UK)
Olivia Harris is a documentary photographer and filmmaker. She is particularly interested in the changing power dynamics between women and men. Her series about the fight for another abortion law in Ireland was awarded prizes at World Press Photo this year.

Foto van Olivia Harris uit de The Feminine ideal serie

Unique guided tours in the Kati Horna exhibition and interactive lunch

Especially for this day you can register for a unique Museumtour of the work of Kati Horna, which can be seen for the first time in the Netherlands. 4 different angles will give you an insight in the work. For example a Fotoproffesional Perspective, A Museummarketing perspective, a social engaged perspective et cetera.

The symposium includes a fixed lunch. This is because everyone has to eat and we don’t want to  lose time with attendees spreading around the area. The museumtours take place during lunch. Depending on your registration for the specific tour you will have lunch at the beginning or at the second part of the hour. It is not possible to bring your own lunch or to order an alternative lunch in the museum café.


foto © Peter Tijhuis

portfolio viewings

Tables are placed in the museum on which you can display your portfolio between 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM. It can then be viewed by visitors of the museum and participants of the symposium (300 potential viewers including for sure FOTODOK and Cobra Museum of Modern Art). You can decide to what extent you want to stay with your portfolio for explanations and conversations. The Cobra Museum and FOTODOK will not use a selection procedure in advance.

If you are intrested to show your portofolio to our attendees and visitors, please contact Eric Wie.

How do you buy tickets?

For the symposium you have to buy a ticket online in advance. There is limited space for 100 visitors. The ticket is for the complete symposium including lunch. You also need to buy a ticket for the museum. Tickets for the museum can be bought online in advance but may also be bought at the counter of the museum. You will be provided with free access to the museum (not to the symposium) if you are in possession of one of the following memberships: Museum card, City pass Amsterdam, City pass Amstelveen, Rembrandt pass, Iamsterdam City Card, ICOM, BGL VIP card. Without one of these memberships, the regular entrance fee is €12.50 and the entrance fee for students is €8.50

Admission fees for the symposium:

Regular: €17.50

Students: €12.50 for students

Please be aware of the fact that you will need two tickets: one for the museum and one for the symposium.



If you have any questions please let us know:

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