Four KABK Photography graduates are nominated for the Steenbergen Stipendium 2020

KABK Photography graduates Bebe Blanco Agterberg, Suzanne Schols, Ashleigh Wilson and Pippilotta Yerna are nominated for the Steenbergen Stipendium 2020, the leading award for the best photographic graduation work made by a student at one of the Dutch art academies.

According to jury chair Merel Bem, the jury nominated five art academy graduation projects based on the final exam exhibitions that took place in autumn:

“What did we look for? Quality, quality, quality. Naturally, that is an abstract concept, but it came down to looking for professionalism and photographic craftmanship, and being strict on visual clichés”

Bebe Blanco Agterberg

A mal tiempo, buena cara / In bad weather, a good face

Bebe Blanco Agterberg
Bebe Blanco Agterberg, Installation view Graduation Show 2020 © Charlotte Brand

In 1977, the left and right parties in Spain concluded the Pacto del Olvido (‘Pact of Forgetting’). Their aim was to end the fascist era of Franco and start a new, democratic society. As a result, history was rewritten. Old crimes were obliterated. An alternative reality emerged. Bebe Blanco Agterberg reflects on that period in her project A mal tiempo, buena cara / In bad weather, a good face. In striking black-and-white photographs presented in an installation and in a book, she sketches a society struggling with a past that ceased to exist from one day to the next. How do you shape such a society? What memories replace the erased ones? And who decides which memories should disappear and which ones should stay? In a natural way and with attention to proportions, Agterberg combines Spanish archive photos with her own work, which alternately has both a staged and a documentary, classic in character.

Pippilotta Yerna

She is the canary in the coalmine of a dying empire

A mal tiempo, buena cara / In bad weather, a good face - Pippilotta Yerna
Pippilotta Yerna, Installation view Graduation Show 2020 © Charlotte Brand

With her camera, Yerna tries to control, and perhaps influence the inevitable – her mother’s mortality. This resulted in a graduation project that sparkles with individuality and originality. Yerna’s photos are simultaneously playful and serious. They show humour and guts. Additionally, mother and daughter have performed the scenes extremely professionally. Both took the wild plan to photographically construct the mother’s death down to the last detail.

Suzanne Schols

Polite Fictions – Behind the public face of diplomatic gifts

Suzanne Schols
Suzanne Schols, Installation view Graduation Show 2020 © Charlotte Brand

Polite Fictions is an investigation into the transparency of international political traffic, which, as it turns out, is not transparent at all. Suzanne Schols found in the diplomatic gift – the polite, seemingly trivial, but oh so meaningful ritual gift that is exchanged when the representatives of two countries meet – the perfect symbol for that apparent publicity. When she wanted to dive into the world of diplomatic gifts, it turned out that the Dutch government and the European Commission did not want to give her permission to photograph the various objects. There are already lists, and images – sure, but everything is encapsulated with restrictions, rules, and secrecy.

Ashleigh Wilson

The Road to Purgatory

Ashleigh Wilson
Ashleigh Wilson, Installation view Graduation Show 2020 © Charlotte Brand

With The Road to Purgatory, Wilson attempts to give a voice to those lost social elements and thus offer space for alternative perspectives on life ‘after’ the conflict. The quotation marks are there, also in Wilson’s own texts, for good reason: that violent chapter has of course never been closed, as it still lingers on in today’s society.

Wilson’s photographic section consists of everyday childhood photos from her personal archive, which she combined with detailed shots of the local government building, symbolically captured on old black and white film rolls that expired in 1998. Her short film is a fragmentary collage of three small, private histories that together tell a larger story about the impossibility of rigorously closing the past. The images are alternately poetic (the green, rainy Irish landscape, the river) and banally mundane, sometimes almost inferior (a woman at a gas station, filmed from the backseat; shaky, covert images of a funeral home that appear to have been made with a cell phone). The whole has a slow, photographic quality. The voice-over is enchanting. The intriguing text is Wilson’s forte, perhaps even more important than her images.

Announcement of the winner and Steenbergen Stipendium exhibition

The Steenbergen Stipendium is the oldest photography award in the Netherlands and has been accompanied by an exhibition of the nominees’ work in the Nederlands Fotomuseum ever since its first edition. The winner of the jury prize - to be announced on 12 May 2021- will receive an incentive prize of €5,000 from Stichting Steenbergen. This time, the projects can be seen in the Nederlands Fotomuseum from 4 April to 23 May 2021.

In previous editions of the prestigious Steenbergen Stipendium the award has been received by KABK alumni Viktor Naumovski (2019), Daniël Siegersma (2018), Eline Benjaminsen (2017), Kimmo Virtanen (2016), Esther Hovers (2015), Olya Oleinic (2014), Willem Popelier (2008).

Related links