Sema Bekirovic


21 February 2007

Book presentation introduced by Kees Moeliker

Helen Westgeest – lecture ‘The Interaction between Theories of Photography and Contemporary Photographic Practice’

Wednesday 21 February

Starts at 8 p.m.

Free entrance, reservation through

As part of the exhibition Capricious in Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, Sema Bekirovic presents her photo book Koet, recently published at Veenman Publishers. The presentation will be introduced by Kees Moeliker, curator at the Natural History Museum Rotterdam. Before that, art historian Helen Westgeest will reflect on theoretical positions in contemporary photography.

In her photography, Sema Bekirovic concentrates on visualising the confrontation between nature and culture, something which is often most clearly manifested in an urban area. For Koet she followed a pair of coots for months as they built and maintained a nest in Amsterdam. She tried to influence this process by ‘feeding’ the animals with flashy odds and ends, strips of celluloid film and photos clipped from art magazines and other sources. The animals indeed incorporated these in their nest. In their way they channelled the concept of ‘visual culture’ by giving a new significance to all sorts of things that had first been the personal property of the photographer, who attached a totally different value to them. The book is available in SMBA for 15 euro.

Koet will be introduced by Kees Moeliker, who received the Ig Nobel Prize for his research on the first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck in 2003. Since that he is expert in strange bird behaviour and European Bureau Chief of Improbable Research, the international organisation that awards the annual Ig Nobel prizes and blogs on

Lecture Helen Westgeest

Theories of photography and theories from the discipline of media studies appear to provide more insight in contemporary photography. In fact it is an interactive process: theories provide new insights in photography and photographic practices initiate new theories of photography.

One of the actual issues is whether photography has a hybrid or chameleonic character since it can be part of entirely different mixed media works of art, such as the combination of photographs and text, photography in painting, slides in video installations, digital photographs in computer art, photographs in installation art, etc. Moreover photography can disguise itself as painting, film still, sculpture, performance, etc. Can we define the medium specificity or ontology of photography, or is its singularity contestable?

In her talk Westgeest will discuss recent theories of photography and the importance of the interaction between theory and practice.

Helen Westgeest teaches at the Art History department of the Leiden University and is freelance curator.