Image of a flyer. Researcher looks through a glass

Interwar Lens Media Cultures 1919–1939

Research project
Inactive research
Project period
2017 - 2021
Project owner
GPS400: Centrum för samverkande visuell forskning, Hasselbladstiftelsen, HDK-Valand

Short description

The 1920s and 30s saw major developments in photography and film in terms of technology, politics, science, culture and entertainment. The transdisciplinary research project Interwar Lens Media Cultures offers new empirical, material and theoretical perspectives on the established history of film and photography during the interwar period. Running over several years, the project has generated a number of public events and 2021 will see the opening of an exhibition, along with the publication of a project anthology.


The upcoming exhibition at the Hasselblad Center will open in May 2021. It is based around an international photographic exhibition that was put on at Göteborgs Konsthall in 1929 (organised by the daily newspaper Göteborgs Handels och Sjöfartstidning). The original exhibition presented a large selection of artistic photographs and professional portraits, alongside photographic applications in sciences such as ethnography, botany, astronomy, physics, medicine, and in areas such as the police, the military, communications and advertising. This mix of subjects demonstrates the widespread use of photography in the interwar period, while the images also reflect the visual culture in Gothenburg in the 1920s. The aim of the exhibition at the Hasselblad Center is to highlight examples of this fascinating but relatively unknown photographic and lens-based material in an innovative presentational form. In dialogue with the photographic history exhibition at the Hasselblad Center, Göteborgs Konsthall will be hosting a contemporary art exhibition with similar themes and works, including archive material from the 1920s and 30s.


Another element of the project is the planned anthology Thresholds: Interwar Lens Media Cultures, which represents new ways of researching, writing and compiling a history of photography and film where, rather than being separated, the two media are explored against the background of each other.

This will be an international anthology featuring new texts from a dozen European researchers. Bringing together empirical and theoretical knowledge about film and photography unlocks new ways to explore the media’s aesthetic, technical and social histories, and modernist visual language. In terms of scientific methodology, the purpose is also to develop a cross-genre photographic and film history perspective that contributes to a more empirically rooted media and information literacy.


Over the course of the project, numerous symposiums and workshops have been held, with invited speakers including Sabine T. Kriebel, Maja Hagerman, Mhari Sutherland, Katarina Leppänen, Anna Dahlgren, Eva Dahlman, Susanne Kriemann, Yvonne Zimmermann, Martin Reinhart, Erika Larsson, Pia Rönicke, Ciara Chambers and Jenny Chamarette.

Bild av publikationen Thresholds. Boken står upp på högkant och man får en känsla av att boken har många sidor och är stor
Bild av publikationen Thresholds
Photo: Cecilia Sandblom
Thresholds book in Gropius Bau, Germany
The publication on sale in Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany.