Research in progress

The Hasselblad Foundation supports and carries out various forms of research in the history, theory and aesthetics of photography. The foundation initiates and produces research projects and collaborates with a range of scholars and institutions. One aim is to present current international photography research to both academic and art students as well as to photographers, art lovers and a wider audience.


Gothenburg 400 years 2021


As part of the anniversary celebrations, the Hasselblad Foundation has initiated a multi-year photohistorical research project that, in 2021, will result in an exhibition, a historical anthology covering both photography and film, and a series of public events. Partners include HDK-Valand, the University of Gothenburg, the Department of Cultural Sciences, GU and Göteborgs Konsthall.


The exhibition at the Hasselblad Center opens in early May 2021 and will run until mid-September 2021. Its starting point is the international photography exhibition shown at Göteborgs Konsthall in 1929 (organised by newspaper Göteborgs Handels och Sjöfartstidning). Presented here was a large range of artistic photography, professional portraiture and photographic applications in the sciences, including ethnography, botany, astronomy, physics, medicine, as well as in other areas such as the police, military, communications and advertising. This mix of subjects shows the proliferation of photography during the interwar period and furthermore the pictures reflect the visual culture in Gothenburg during the 1920s. The exhibition at the Hasselblad Center aims to highlight examples of this fascinating, yet relatively unknown, photographic and lens-based material in an innovative exhibition format.


Rolf Winquist

In dialogue with the photohistorical exhibition at the Hasselblad Center, Göteborgs Konsthall will be showing a contemporary art exhibition with corresponding themes and work, including archive material from the 1920s and 1930s. The exhibitions at the Hasselblad Center and Göteborgs Konsthall will be connected in a number of ways, including a joint exhibition catalogue.


The anthology, which highlights important points of interest and common areas of activity between photography and film during the interwar period, is a result of cross-discipline collaborative research between the Hasselblad Foundation, the Photography Department at HDK-Valand and Film Studies at the Department of Cultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg. It is an international anthology with new texts by a dozen researchers in the fields of photography, film, art and media science, chiefly from Gothenburg and the rest of Sweden, but also other European researchers. Bringing together empirical and theoretical knowledge from film and photography enables an examination of the aesthetical, technical and social histories of these media, as well as modernist imagery, in a new way. Furthermore, in terms of scientific method, the aim is to develop cross-genre photographic and film historiographical perspectives that contribute to more empirically based knowledge about media and information.


The public events will include seminars, symposiums, panel discussions and artist talks.






In 1929 the local newspaper Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning arranged an International Photography Exhibition at Konsthallen in Gothenburg. Similar to many other photo exhibitions at this time it united fine art photography with commercial, scientific, and military imagery. The various genres – architecture, portraiture, forensics, formal experiments, astronomy, ethnography, x-ray, and aerial photography – point to a cultural historical context formed by issues such as national identity and nationalism, archives and biopolitics, historiography, industrial expansion, international influences, and social change.


The exhibition serves as a starting point for the photo historical project PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE THRESHOLD: EXPERIMENT AND SOCIAL CHANGE – a Hasselblad Foundation initiative in collaboration with HDK-Valand. The project is an investigation of interwar photography and the period’s visual culture in Sweden and beyond.


PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE THRESHOLD: EXPERIMENT AND SOCIAL CHANGE seeks to probe various ways of researching, writing and doing photo history. Furthermore, the project will address reflections and parallels between the Interwar period and the present. The research will be published in various formats including books and exhibitions.


The initial research process includes the workshop conference INTERWAR PHOTOGRAPHY: EXPERIMENT AND SOCIAL CHANGE taking place on November 21, 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Among the confirmed speakers are Sabine T. Kriebel; Maja Hagerman; Mats Jansson; Mhairi Sutherland; Katarina Leppänen, Anna Dahlgren, Eva Dahlman and Susanne Kriemann. Topics will include: montage, fascism, eugenics and photography, gender rights and representation, aerial photography, commercialism and modernism.


More information about the project and detailed program and venue for the symposium will be available shortly.



The Hasselblad Foundation’s own research is often based on the photographic collection and archive as well as on the yearly recipients of the Hasselblad Award. The research and the exhibition programme are closely tied together.

Furthermore the foundation carries out research projects in current art photographic practices as well as theoretical questions concerning the role of photography in contemporary visual culture. The outcome is presented internationally at conferences and locally in talks and seminars; in publications and through exhibitions. The recent research project WATCHED! focuses on surveillance art and photography in post 9/11 Europe, which in 2016 resulted in a book and a touring exhibition.



Previous Projects

Previous Projects