Photography not only chronicles the passage of time, impermanence, and the ageing of people and things, but photographs themselves are uniquely impermanent objects.


Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presents Forever Young?, an exhibition that explores the relationship between photography and transience, from 30 March to 12 August. Spread out over five galleries, the presentation spotlights photographs that portray impermanence, and those that are themselves showing signs of age. The exhibition also looks at photography that plays with the suggestion of ageing, and artworks in which the combination of photography and other media can create conservation issues.

The museum treats photographic objects in particular with extreme care, especially in the case of color photography, and artworks that combine photography with other materials. Despite being stored in carefully controlled conditions, early color photographs specifically have a tendency to redden over time, and the separate components in mixed media works sometimes age at different rates. Restoration is possible but only to a limited degree, and new digital editing and printing techniques can replace older analogue prints. However, these possibilities raise questions and dilemmas for everyone involved.

This presentation accompanies the project ‘Photographs and Preservation. How to Save Photographic Works for the Future?’, part of the Science4Arts program, financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The University of Leiden is supervising three PhD research projects in the context of the program.

Video credits

  • Produced by: Mals Media
  • Made by: Freeweel Stories


Image: Berend Strik, Punch Bag 1, 2002. Collectie SMA. Fotocredit: Freewheel Stories

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