Anna Dahlgren. Foto: Helena Björnsjö

Anna Dahlgren


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Culture and Aesthetics
Telephone 08-16 20 50
Visiting address Frescativägen 22B-26
Room 244
Postal address Institutionen för kultur och estetik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am professor of Art History with a PhD in Art History from Stockholm University.

I am interested in photography, display practices, image studies and visual culture. A core interest is how images and other visual expressions are produced, circulated and used and migrate between different display contexts. I have studied Swedish advertising- and fashion photography, press photography and contemporary photo based art as well as Nineteenth century photo albums, museum and archival practices with a focus on photography. Moreover I have been working with the effects of the digital turn, with the implications of digital image alterations as well as current issues of digital archiving and access and I am currently involved in the development of a research project on metadata and culture heritage institutions image collections online.

I have developed the A-level course Art history. Visual Studies (30 hp, KV1420) which has run since the fall 2013 and I have developed the PhD course Visual Sources for the Faculty of Humanities at Stockholm University in 2017.

I have a strong interest in the development of learning communities and research environments and have published on such matters, primarily targeting students at PhD level. 

I am currently research coordinator in Art History and sits in the Academic Appointment Board at the Faculty of Humanities at Stockholm University.

My latest publications include the monograph Travelling Images. Looking Across the Borderlands of Art, Media and Visual Culture, in the series Rethinking Art’s Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018) and contributions in the anthologies Power of the In-Between: Intermediality as a Tool for Aesthetic Analysis and Critical Reflection (Stockholm: Stockholm University Press, 2018), and Challenging the Iconic Turn (Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, forthcoming).


My latest publications include the monograph Travelling Images. Looking Across the Borderlands of Art, Media and Visual Culture, in the series Rethinking Art’s Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018) and contributions in the anthologies Power of the In-Between: Intermediality as a Tool for Aesthetic Analysis and Critical Reflection (Stockholm: Stockholm University Press, 2018), and Challenging the Iconic Turn (Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, forthcoming).

Research projects

Collecting Social Photo (2018-2019)
Ongoing project with the overall aim of developing new thinking and  work practices for collecting and disseminating the ephemeral everyday photographs in heritage institutions. Funded by Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.

Art, Borders and Boundaries (2015-2016)
This project seeks to explore the mechanisms by which borders and boundaries between art and other visual expressions have been upheld and transgressed in different periods and image systems. It cross-fertilizes art history and image studies with media theory, and fashion studies. By this inclusive approach I focus on the overlaps and the osmotic nature that characterizes the bounds of art and explore the mechanisms by which images and imagery have migrated over it. This includes the agents, individuals and institutions, acting in these processes and their rhetoric as well as the visual and textual contexts in which these processes of exclusion and inclusion take place. The project consists of four case studies that investigate different visual techniques (collage, photography, drawing, performance), display contexts (illustrated press, cityscapes, albums) and periods (from the 1860s through 2000s) that highlight the nature and further implications of such transgressions. The theories and working concepts are multi-disciplinary including ‘social biography’ of images and imagery (visual anthropology) and image ecology and image systems (media theory, visual studies) among others. Funded by Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond/Sabbatical 2014. 

A medium for visual education. Cultural historical perspectives on photo albums 1850-1950 (2007-2013)
The project considers the photo album as a medium in the nineteenth century. The material aspects of the photo album are in focus as a means for understanding its use, function and meaning. Furthermore the social, cultural historical and ideological contexts of the photo album are analysed synchronically and diachronically. By using a broad visual studies perspective I relate the photo album to other media for displaying and consuming photographic images in the period. Funded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities and Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

Representational machines (2009-2013)
A Collaborative Research Network and publication funded by Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. Photography, much like any other form of representation, poses pressing questions about sense, habitus, modalities of representation and perhaps most insistently these days, about the productive capacity of its representations. Photography does not merely represent the phenomenal world in some neutral and objective manner—we know that—but neither does it suffice to show that it represents the world in a manner saturated with conventions and choices, manipulating techniques and interests. What seems important today is to face the question of how these conventions, interests and technologies have enabled photography to be productive and how that productivity involves space. The project included 13 European scholars.ätverk/representational-machines-photography-and-the-production-of-space-1.214855

Networks and commissions

Steering the national Seminar for photo research, funded in the beginning of 2008. Funded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities. See:

Scientific Board, National Library of Sweden

Board, ACSIS/ Advanced Cultural Studies Institute of Sweden, Linköping University

Editorial Board, Mediehistorisk Arkiv, Lund University


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2016. Anna Dahlgren. Konsthistorisk Tidskrift 85 (2), 181-198

    Artworks that trespass legal bounds and are judged as illegal acts or objects are illuminating examples of how the notion of art is continuously negotiated by different agents in different contexts. This essay seeks to discuss news media as one such agent or context. The two cases considered are the media coverage of Dan Wolgers' participation in the exhibition Ecce Homo in Stockholm in 1992 and Anna Odell's project Unknown woman 2009-349701 from 2009. Both acts were simultaneously considered as artistic statements and real illegal deeds. The overall aim is to explore how mass media-that is daily press, professional journals and television -interpreted this duality and how the media discourse intervened and acted in the artistic and legal processes. Thus, this article seeks to analyse the mediatization of art. Accordingly, this study expands its focus beyond the typical agents of the art world such as curators, critics and art historians as it also includes statements and writings from representatives of politics, media, entertainment, law and the general public. Although these artists and artworks differ in many respects, they share a legal postlude as well as extensive media coverage. The media debates that followed the production and display of these two artworks clearly impacted their legal postlude. Moreover, they directly or indirectly constituted parts of the artists' oeuvres. Being controversial acts, they allowed for multiple interpretations and thereby smoothly fed into the logic of the media system. Furthermore, these examples clearly display how individual artists and artworks may serve as vehicles in larger aesthetic and art political controversies within the logic and system of media.

  • 2016. Anna Dahlgren. Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research 8 (1), 3-19

    This article discusses the benefits of analysing photography as mediated, reproduced and entangled in media systems, and consequently as part of a larger media culture. Moreover it combines technological considerations drawn from media archaeology with art historical analysis focusing on visual aesthetics. It considers two mediating devices for photography in the nineteenth century, the photo album and the illustrated press. As displayed, a media historical perspective airs new interpretations and understandings of processes and practices in relation to photography in the period. Thus what from a photo historical point of view might appear as an important, paradigmatic invention or a critical technical delimitation might from a media historical perspective seem to have been merely a small adjustment in a chain of gradual improvements and experiments in the dissemination and consumption of images. Thus photographic media specificity delimited by technical procedures and certain materials outputs, which was so strongly emphasized in the twentieth century, was evidently not fixed to materiality and rather opened and negotiated in the nineteenth century. Accordingly, responsiveness to the literal and figurative framing of photography as mediated, discloses other photo histories.

  • 2016. Anna Dahlgren. Det goda seminariet, 109-126
  • 2016. Anna Dahlgren. Historia i praktiken, 93-112
  • 2014. Anna Dahlgren. Fashion and museums, 61-74
  • 2013. Anna Dahlgren.
  • 2013. Anna Dahlgren, Nina Lager Vestberg, Dag Petersson.

    Photography does not only represents space. Space is produced photographically.Since its inception in the 19thcentury, photography has brought to light a vast array of  represented subjects. Always situated in some spatial order, photographic representations have been operatively underpinned by social, technical, and institutional mechanisms. Geographically, bodily, and geometrically, the camera has positioned its subjects in social structures and hierarchies, in recognizable localities, and in iconic depth constructions which, although they show remarkable variation, nevertheless belong specifically to the enterprises of the medium.This is the subject of Representational Machines: How photography enlists the workings of institutional technologies in search of establishing new iconic and social spaces. Together, the contributions to this edited volume span historical epochs, social environments, technological possibilities, and genre distinctions. Presenting several distinct ways of producing space photographically, this book opens a new and important field of inquiry for photography research

  • 2013. Anna Dahlgren. The Photograph and the Album, 72-102
  • 2010. Anna Dahlgren. Photography and Culture 3 (2), 175-194

    This article concerns the practice of making inscriptions in personal albums from the second half of the nineteenth century. The overall aim is to discuss the implications of this practice for interpretation and to investigate the cultural ideas and concepts embedded in it. The results are based on a close study of the heterogeneous collection of photo albums held at the Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum), a museum of cultural history, in Sweden. Unlike personal photo albums produced after 1900, it is rare to find dates in personal carte-de-visite albums. Rather than a mere lack of data, this may indicate a different relationship between photography, time, and identity; pointing to a significant change in the vernacular uses and functions of photographs. The personal photo albums were conversation pieces that functioned better without text, as the images could prompt social contact in the form of inquiries and discussion. Later on, albums took on a character more reminiscent of a personal diary. The fact that so few privately circulated nineteenth-century portraits are dated indicates the relations between photographic portraits and painted portraits and furthermore it displays the similarities and differences between instrumental uses of portrait photography and private games of reading faces.

  • 2010. Anna Dahlgren. Konsthistorisk Tidskrift 79 (3), 160-173
  • Book (ed) I bildarkivet
    2009. Anna Dahlgren, Pelle Snickars.
  • Chapter Mode+Fotografi=
    2009. Anna Dahlgren. Mode, 152-174
  • 2007. Anna Dahlgren. Konsthistorisk Tidskrift (3), 135-146
  • 2011. Anna Dahlgren. Images in time. Flashing forward, backward, in front and behind photography in fashion, advertising and the press
  • 2010. Anna Dahlgren. Burkar, påsar, paket, 142-161
  • 2012. Anna Dahlgren. Markeringar och maskeringar, 102-111
  • 2015. Anna Dahlgren. En fotohistorie
Show all publications by Anna Dahlgren at Stockholm University


Last updated: August 10, 2018

Bookmark and share Tell a friend