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PhD defence

Picturing Landscape: Contemporary Photography, Collective Visual Memory and the Making of Place in the Netherlands.

Tuesday 18 September 2018
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

Landscape photography is a means of visual communication that transfers meanings of landscapes to its viewers. The beholder feels at home with a depicted landscape, is alienated from it or sees it in a totally different way. In her dissertation, interdisciplinary between art history, cultural geography and landscape architecture, Van den Heuvel introduces a methodology that consists of three steps: ‘georeferencing’, ‘geospecific comparison’ and ‘geogeneric comparison’. The method helps to analyse how landscape pictures create meaning of a location or – to speak with Yi-Fu Tuan – how they ‘make place’.

Mapping 5 (2008-2009)
Mapping 5 (2008-2009) © Kim Boske / Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden

The method is first applied to three case studies in the Dutch landscape: the Haarlemmermeer area around Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam as photographed by Theo Baart and published in the photobook Werklust: Biography of a Landscape in Transition (2015); a tree nursery in the banks of the Lower Rhine as photographed by Gerco de Ruijter for the photograph Baumschule #2 (2009) and the nature reserve of a heath area near Laren in the Gooi-area in the Central Netherlands as photographed by Kim Boske for the photograph Mapping 5 (2008-2009).

Conclusively is stated, that photographers do not only work with the physical elements that appeared before their cameras. Also, compositions and motives that persist from famous landscape painting play a rhethoric role to create meaning of a place. The method not only helps to informs on artistic landscape photography. Also, to cultural geographers and landscape architects it gives insight in the way photography visually constructs and communicates meanings of landscapes.


This dissertation was partly realized in the framework of the European JPI Cultural Heritage program EUWATHER and with the support of the Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University.


  • Prof. C.J.M. Zijlmans
  • Prof. J.C.A. Kolen


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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