Alum Photography Amy Opstal wins audience award Steenbergen Stipendium

19 April 2023

Amy Opstal, alum Bachelor Photography (2022), wins the audience award of the Steenbergen Stipendium with The Parent Act. The Steenbergen Stipendium is awarded annually at the Nederlands Fotomuseum to a student from one of the five accredited Dutch art academies for the best photographic graduation work.

Until 8 January, visitors to the Nederlands Fotomuseum could cast their votes for the audience award. Most votes went to The Parent Act by Amy Opstal.

Amy Opstal's work allows people to come into contact with invisible problems and struggles of people in our society. A confrontation with social issues is necessary to change public opinion. The aim is to contribute to emancipation and normalisation through photography.

Amy captures her subjects in their vulnerable position: women during childbirth, people sharing stories of abuse, a person struggling with disability and illness, and LGBTQIA+ parents fighting for equal rights. She shows the banality of pain, being 'different' and discomfort. The Parent Act calls due attention to structural issues in our 'free society', the inequality for LGBTQIA+ parents who choose to start a family.

One of the photgraphs from the graduation work of Amy Opstal 'The Parent Act'

In the report, the jury says:

"Opstal takes an incisive look at society and shows people being treated unequally in various ways. The work shows social issues that are taboo, and with the help of the people portrayed, the issues are depicted in a crystal-clear way. The work poses questions about the level of tolerance in Dutch society and perhaps the lack thereof in other places in the world. The people portrayed are portrayed with dignity, (a certain amount of) respect and sensitivity. The images stand on their own. The deeper layer where the taboo becomes visible can be seen in the use of the personal objects that are part of the presentation: literally making tangible the elements that touch on the viewer's discomfort. The materiality thus added to the presentation is literally an extra layer where the content complexity is expressed in another medium."

Download the jury rapport (Dutch).

The Steenbergen Stipendium 2022 was awarded to Romina Koopman (Gerrit Rietveld Academy) for her project At The Other Side Of The Rabbit Hole. Koopman reflects on how the photographic medium - within the digital age - creates an ongoing and evolving truth.

The Steenbergen Foundation en its Stipendium

The Steenbergen Stipendium's ambition is to highlight high-quality photography projects. Over the past 20 years, the Steenbergen Stipendium has proven to be a leading award, respected by academies, students and critics. Previous recipients of the Steenbergen Stipendium awards include Laura Bouman (2021), Pippilotta Yerna (2020), Olya Oleinic (2014), Jaya Pelupessy (2013), Ola Lanko (2012), Petra Stavast (2002) and Andrea Stultiens (1998).