Archive | June 2014

Still Lives in Motion: Caravaggio and Zurbaran

CarZurStefano Cracolici of the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture will give a public lecture on ‘Still Lives in Motion: Caravaggio and Zurbaran, at Auckland Castle, Thursday 10th July 2014, 7pm.

Like landscape or portraiture, still life represents an established genre in the artistic canon. Its most remarkable achievements are often associated with the greatness of the Dutch pictorial vision; its origins, however, are still blurred, and its development, outside the Low Countries, still needs to be entirely charted. Away from the conventional examples of the genre, this lecture will look at some striking still lives by Caravaggio and Zurbaran, focusing in particular on their experimental interpretation of the genre. In their experiments, Caravaggio and Zurbaran transform the depiction inanimate objects into a coded narrative that the viewer is invited to decipher. The story behind the canvas has in fact little to do with the allegorical meaning of the objects represented; it is instead a matter of montage. The stillness of these still lives reveals action in the moment of its highest suspense; their timeless reality appears emotionally intensified in its fleetingness; their beholder is trapped in their unforeseen, unexpected and implausible precariousness. Caravaggio and Zurbaran set their still lives in motion. The improbable composition of trivial objects on the canvas transforms their visual outlook into a devotional image – should we pray in front of it or just admire?

The lecture will be held in the magnificent Long Dining Room, home to the life size portraits of Jacob and his Twelve Sons by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664).

Wine and soft drinks will be served upon arrival from 7pm.

Please note there are limited spaces for the lecture, therefore pre-booking is essential. To reserve your place please contact or call 01388743750.



CFP: Photography’s Shifting Terrain: Emerging Histories & New Practices

Conference Name: Photography’s Shifting Terrain: Emerging Histories & New Practices
Place: New York University Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Date: March 8-10, 2015

Language of Papers & Presentations: English

Conference description:

Photography’s Shifting Terrain: Emerging Histories & New Practices

Our understanding of the histories and practices of photography is changing as more and more critical attention is being paid to photographic cultures from outside of Europe and North America, and to new forms and functions emergent in a variety of contemporary social and political contexts and digital formats. This conference will bring together up to forty scholars, photographers, curators and archivists from around the world in order to undertake new explorations of photography’s past and its present.

Models for global, regional and local histories of photography are being rethought as a growing number of case studies develop our knowledge of previously unexamined or little known traditions as well as individual photographers. New visual vocabularies and practices are being constructed in vernacular, documentary and fine art forms; the same vocabularies and practices can also challenge these very categories and are often characterized by a turn to local histories and mythologies and personal experiences and needs. Emergent nations and cultural groups are using photography to construct their own histories and a sense of shared cultural heritage. At the same time, both photographers and photographs increasingly move between cultures, and the space between the local and the global has become a space of situatedness in its own right.

Documentary photography has been the object of critique but photography committed to human rights or ‘peace photography’ is thriving – not just in new forms but also through new strategies of intervention. The concern with aesthetics has similarly been out of favor in some quarters but there is also a renewed interest in the relationship of aesthetics and ethics.

In such contexts, the work of archives, galleries, photo agencies, festivals and other cultural organizations committed to the photographic image is more important than ever, as is the role of visual education. Where there is little state support for photography, such institutions often carry the responsibility for creating, preserving and disseminating photographic culture.

These are some of the areas and issues the conference aims to examine. The conference will focus in particular on the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. However, work about and from other regions is also welcomed, as are suggestions for other topics.

We invite both scholarly papers as well as presentations by those working with photography outside the academy.

The organizers plan to publish a volume of selected papers and presentations.

In addition, we would like to gather together important and previously un-translated writings on photography from the non-English-speaking world with a view of publishing an anthology in English. We would very much welcome suggestions and contributions in this area.


Funding & Organization:

All travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses will be covered for all participants presenting at the conference.

The conference is funded and hosted by the New York University Abu Dhabi Institute. It is organized in collaboration with the Arab Image Foundation.
Principal organizers:

Shamoon Zamir
Associate Professor of Literature & Visual Studies, NYUAD, and Director of Akkasah: Center for Photography at NYUAD.

Issam Nassar
Professor of Middle East History and Member, Arab Image Foundation

Suggested topics:

Possible topics for proposals include, but are not limited to:

•           New visual vocabularies in photography
•           Archives & archival practices
•           Alternative histories of photography
•           Photography & human rights / “Peace Photography”
•           Photography and history
•           Photography and aesthetics
•           Cross-cultural encounters & movements
•           Photographic genres, modes and audiences
•           Image & text / the photobook


Proposal guidelines, submission process & schedule:

Proposals for papers or presentations, or for panels should provide as much detail as possible but should not exceed 500 words.

Proposals will be reviewed by the principal organizers and an advisory committee.

All papers and presentations will be 20 minutes.

Submit a 500 word abstract and a 150 word biographical note to:
Özge Calafato
Proposals should be submitted in the following format:

Name of the author(s)
Telephone and e-mail address
Title of proposal
Body of proposal


You will be notified by November 7, 2014 regarding the status of your proposal.


Contact & Link:
For further information on the conference, please contact:

Shamoon Zamir
Arts and Humanities, New York University Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Details of the conference and the call for papers & presentations are also available at:

Classicism and the East: receptions of the oriental in European architecture

Friday 4th July 2014, Durham University, Department of Classics & Ancient History

Where studies of Italian Renaissance architecture have focused on the impact of the antique, they have been directed at the influence of western Roman buildings, particularly those in Italy and southern France, and neglected the role played in Renaissance designs by buildings of the ancient East of Greek, Roman and other ancient cultures. It is also some three to four decades since the work of Margaret Lyttelton, Anthony Blunt and William MacDonald began to explore the possible links between the early modern baroque and its ancient counterpart, most clearly seen in the buildings of the eastern Roman empire, and the impact of the architecture of non-classical cultures of the ancient East on European classicism remains to be investigated. How far was European classicism nurtured by a dialogue with the ancient East, not just Greek and Roman buildings, but the ancient oriental architecture? Bringing together the interests of Durham’s two classical research centres, the Durham Centre for Classical Reception (DCCR) and the Centre for the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East (CAMNE), this one-day workshop will reconsider the legacy of the ancient architecture of the eastern Mediterranean for the architecture of early modern Europe. A final open-panel session “Reconfiguring the Baroque” will explore stylistic relations between ancient architecture with “baroque” characteristics and its early modern counterpart and discuss the possible development of a research network grant application on the baroque in ancient and early modern culture.


10.00 Welcome

10.15 Introduction (Edmund Thomas)

10.30-1.00: Session 1: Renaissance looks East:
10.30-11.30 Peter Fane-Saunders (Durham), Diodorus Siculus and Renaissance Architecture
11.30-12.00 Coffee
12.00-1.00 Margaret Daly Davis (Florence), Sebastiano Serlio’s Terzo libro on the Antiquities and its fortuna: Recording and Reconstructing Ancient Architecture in the East

1.00-2.00 Lunch

2.00-5.30: Session 2: Orientalising the “Baroque”:
2.00-3.00 Edmund Thomas (Durham), Baalbek and the European Baroque
3.00-4.00 Vaughan Hart (Bath), Wren and Tyrian architecture

4.00-4.30 Tea

4.30-5.30: Session 3: Looking forward: Reconfiguring the “Baroque”, stylistic links between ancient and modern in architecture, art, literature and music:

4.30-5.30 Panel: chaired by Edmund Thomas (Durham) with response by Andrew Hopkins (L’Aquila)

There is no charge for attendance at the conference, but, to help with organising numbers for catering, anyone wishing to attend the conference is requested to contact me as soon as possible and by Friday 27th June. There are a small number of en suite rooms available at a reasonable charge, and anyone requiring overnight accommodation is asked to contact me to make a reservation.

Edmund Thomas

V&A Museum – 2014 Call for Project Proposals for AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships

The Victoria and Albert Museum is now inviting applications for AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Awards (CDAs). As part of the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership consortium, the V&A will award four fully-funded studentships.

The V&A is Britain’s national museum of art and design, with a collection spanning two thousand years of art in virtually every medium, from across the world. It was established following the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, with the radical, utilitarian and entrepreneurial aims of educating and inspiring working people. With a vast and encyclopaedic collection, significant for its historical importance as well as its contemporary excellence and relevance, the Museum remains a source of inspiration for all who share a passion, interest and enthusiasm for art and design.

The V&A actively welcomes enquiries and project proposals from UK Higher Education Institutions, and has identified six priority research areas around which studentships should be formulated:

1) New approaches to learning, display and interpretation in the field of art and design
2) Designing the future
3) Research into textiles (including projects with a practice-based component)
4) Conservation-related research
5) Collecting and curating Africa
6) Design for performance

Applications outside the priority themes may also be submitted if they can demonstrate a strong fit with other V&A priorities.

Application Procedure
We welcome project proposals from UK Higher Education Institutions, for projects to start from October 2015. The deadline for proposals for studentships to start in the 2015/2016 academic year is Friday 28 November 2014.

Copies of the proposal form and application guidance are available here.

Please send applications and any enquiries relating to the V&A’s CDP scheme to:

Photography and the concept of cultural translation: salvation or problematic?

Convenors: Professor Elizabeth Edwards (IAS 2012), Professor Jonathan Long (Durham)

Conference Panel forming part of the Durham Institute of Advanced Study conference on Transfusion and Transformation: the Creative Potential of Interdisciplinary Knowledge Exchange, July 15th – 17th 2014

The panel takes place 4pm – 5.30pm on Thursday 15th July in the Kingsley Barrett Theatre of Durham University’s Calman Building.

The concept and metaphor of ‘translation’, as an approach to practices and effects, has become increasingly widespread across a range of disciplines: archaeology, history, anthropology, cultural studies and, of course, the field of translation studies itself, in a symbiotic flow of key concepts. T

This panel will bring together a group of interdisciplinary scholars to consider the act and object of photography as an form of cultural translation that moves a set of experiences – the war zone, the ritual event, the everyday – from one space of understanding to another.

The panel asks for whom, and under what circumstances can photographs be seen as acts of translation? How does this intersect with our understanding of ‘representation’? To what extent is photography assumed to be a universal language? To what extent is photography, as an act of translation, assumed, that is at the same time, to transcend that translation in the global flow of representations/ images? To what extent does photography claim or challenge universal categories of comprehension? Does it assume unproblematic and mutually exchangeable accessibility? What is its cultural shaping in the act of apprehension? How is the act of translation disrupted by moments of incomprehension?

Contributors will be asked specifically to bring recent thinking in translation theory to new thinking on photographic analysis to explore synergies and problems. Is ‘cultural translation’ an exhausted metaphor that assumes the universality of photographic meaning, or does it open a space in which the analysis of the cultural work of photographs can be enriched and refigured by thinking through the act of translation itself?

It is significant how many ‘trans-‘ words cluster around attempts to understand the social and cultural efficacy of photography – not only translation itself but transaction, transcription, transfiguration, transubstantiation, even transgression. Linguistic models have had a profound influence on photographic analysis in the past few decades. Translation promises to enrich photography studies because it adds a dynamic, diachronic, and dialogic dimension to our understanding of photography and the multiple acts of interpretation to which it perforce gives rise.


Jennifer Tucker (Wesleyan/York)

“Law and image as translation: photographs and maps go to court”

Legal evidence depends on the tension between transparency and translation, which may be defined as the process of translating words or text from one language into another, the conversion of something from one form or medium into another, or the process of moving something from one place to another. Photography’s introduction into the courtroom during the middle years of the nineteenth century transformed the practice of law: how lawyers constructed and argued their cases, presented evidence to juries, and communicated with each other. How were photographs used and perceived in the courtroom and in wider culture, and how did they affect judicial decision making and public perceptions of justice? This paper explores how, when, and why legal practice moved from a largely words-only environment to one more dependent on and driven by images, and how rapidly developing technologies have further accelerated this change. Building on recent work in legal and historical scholarship and translation studies, I show examples from a wide range of actual trials and 19th and 20th century evidence manuals to illustrate and explore the idea of photography as a ‘universal language’ or an ‘immediacy,’ but one that is itself an act of translation.


Elizabeth Edwards (de Montfort)

“The same everywhere? Photographic ethnographies and the challenge to universal translation.”

This paper will address the destabilising potential of ethnographic studies of photography on classic, linguistically-based theories of photographic universality. It will argue that the qualities of direct translation and comprehensibility which have been widely debated in western photography, and which have been at the base of critiques of global image flows, from The Family of Man exhibition to the internet, are complicated by the different social demands and expectations brought to photographs. Drawing on recent work from Australia, India, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, the paper will argue that resistance to the idea of photography as universal translation has been grounded in the politics of representation and western hegemonies, but have largely excluded other ‘reclaimings of the real’ through which photographs are made to speak ‘different dialects’.


Janet Stewart (Durham)

“Photography, Petroleum Museums and the Sociology of Translation”

As Elizabeth Edwards (2013) has recently pointed out, despite the considerable body of critical literature that has been produced over recent decades in both photography theory and museology, the question of the role that photography plays in museums has only seldom been subjected to extended analysis. Notable contributions to this field include Gaby Porter’s (1989) essay on ‘The Economy of Truth’ and Edwards’s Raw Histories (2001), as well as recent contributions to Museum & Society (Stylianou-Lambert and Bounia 2012; Edwards and Mead 2013). This paper seeks to intervene in on-going debate about the use of photographs in museums by exploring the efficacy of employing the concept of ‘translation’ to shed light on the complex lives of photographs in these institutions. While Stylianou-Lambert and Bounia focus on photography in war museums, and Edwards and Mead turn their attention to the place of photographs in museum displays that engage with the colonial past, this paper focuses on the way in which photographs appear in museum displays that seek to narrate aspects of Europe’s oil history (another form of contested heritage). Focusing on the recently renovated oil and gas display in Aberdeen’s Maritime Museum, but drawing upon material from other European petroleum museums, this paper will attend to the multiple ways in which photography is employed in these institutions, analysing not only the displays but also marketing literature and other ephemera. The theoretical framework through which these photographic works – understood as both images and as objects – will be approached will draw upon the ‘sociology of translation’, developed by Bruno Latour and Michel Serres. Their focus on the relational nature of translation seems apposite when seeking to think through the particular example of the Petroleum Museum, an institution designed to mediate between technology and culture.


Jonathan Long (Durham)

“Translation in/of Photomontage”

In 1924, German designer and photomonteur John Heartfield produced a photomontage entitled 20 Years After: Fathers and Sons (Zwanzig Jahre danach: Väter und Söhne). The image uses a variety of motivic repetition known as translation or translational symmetry. This involves the serial repetition of a motif along a horizontal or vertical axis: moving a motif from one place to another. While easy to effect in simple abstract patterns, it is only practically possible with complex figurative subjects by means of photography. Translation, in this sense, is a quasi-universal operation, a form of visual organisation that can be found in cultural artefacts produced in most if not all societies. However, photomontage as form of political propaganda requires highly specific kinds of translation if it is to be effective. If it is so polysemous that it is incapable of translation into more or less determinate propositional content, it fails as propaganda. So this paper will map the universal translational capacities of photography onto the specific forms of translation demanded by the photomontage in order to develop an understanding of the operations and limitations of translation as both a photographic process and an explanatory schema.

Centre for Visual Arts and Culture: Annual General Meeting

Durham Business School

11th July 2014, 9.30am – 4.30pm

This year’s CVAC AGM has been designed to serve three purposes: to encourage networking amongst members, to present for discussion the draft CVAC strategy for 2014 – 2017, and to open up discussion on opportunities for cultural engagement and working with key partners.

To encourage research networking, we have set aside time in the programme for discussion sessions under the heading of  ‘Research “Show and Tell”. We are hoping that these sessions will offer an informal opportunity for all members of CVAC to talk about their research interests. For this to work, we would simply ask that all members bring to the meeting an image or object related to their research interests that might be used to spark conversation with others.

We are very keen that all members contribute to shaping the direction that CVAC takes in the next three years  (including identifying priority areas for collaborative research) and hope that as many members as possible are able to attend this meeting to comment on the CVAC strategic plan.

CVAC has a role to play in the development of Cultural Engagement initiatives at Durham and so we have decided to devote the afternoon session to a roundtable on cultural engagement, with panellists from the university and also a presentation from one of our partner organisations, Auckland Castle.
The meeting is open to all and I would encourage you to forward this email to anyone you think might be interested in CVAC’s plans and activities.

We would, however, ask you to confirm your attendance by sending an email to by 7th July 2014 so that we can confirm catering.


9am – 9.30am Arrival
9.30am Welcome: Janet Stewart
9.45am Introduction to Steering Committee Members
10.00am Presentation of Draft CVAC Strategy 2014 – 2017 and Programme of Events for 2014/2015
10.30am Coffee Break
11am – 12.15pm Research ‘Show and Tell’ I / Working Groups to discuss CVAC strategy
12.15pm – 1.30pm Lunch
1.30pm – 3pm Roundtable on Cultural Engagement and Partnerships chaired by Ludmilla Jordanova, with presentations by:
David Cowling, PVC Arts & Humanities
Keith Bartlett, Director of Cultural Engagement
Hazel Edwards, Senior Engagement Manager
Chris Ferguson, Senior Curator, Auckland Castle
Followed by questions and discussion
3pm – 3.30pm Coffee Break
3.30pm – 4.30pm Research ‘Show and Tell’ II / Working Groups to discuss cultural engagement
4.30pm Closing Remarks
5.30pm – 7pm Evening Reception: Venue TBC

CFP: New Voices 2014 ‘A Picture of Health: Representations and Imaginations of Wellbeing and Illness’

New Voices 2014
‘A Picture of Health: Representations and Imaginations of Wellbeing and Illness’
Birkbeck and Wellcome Trust, London
7 November 2014

Call for Papers

Keynote Speakers

• Dr Suzannah Biernoff, Department of History of Art, Birkbeck, University of London
• Christine Borland, BALTIC Professor, Northumbria University
Introduction by Ross MacFarlane, Research Engagement Officer, Wellcome Library
What is the relationship between art and health, and how has it varied across different historical periods and disciplines?
Paintings, drawings and sculptures have long played a significant role in the care and portrayal of the sick, from the 16th-century Isenheim altarpiece, painted for a monastery that nursed plague sufferers and patients with skin diseases, to contemporary art and medical research collaborations, outreach workshops and the art collections of modern-day hospitals. Artists themselves have engaged with medicine in a number of different ways, ranging from technical illustration to expressive portrayals of the subjective experience of illness, while historical psycho-biographical readings of art and modern-day biopics have perpetuated the association between mental illness and ‘creative genius’.
In recent years Medical Humanities has emerged as an important new area of interdisciplinary study. Scholars have increasingly focused on images and art objects in their enquiries into the culture of medicine. What distinctive methodologies can the practice of art history offer this new field? What different conceptual models might be appropriate for considering the function and purpose of art in relation to issues of illness and health? How can art help us to negotiate our own sense of wellbeing, and what is the mediating role of the artist in this process? What can art tell us about historical relationships between doctors and patients, changing conceptions of the human body, or the representation of illness as distinct from ‘good’ health?
Paper Proposals
We welcome contributions from those working with visual materials in a wide range of disciplines including but not limited to art history, fine arts, film and visual culture, art therapy, medicine and literary or cultural studies. Topics might address notions of art and health across all periods and contexts, at both ‘micro’ and ‘macro’ levels, from specific case studies about particular artists, works or medical collaborations, to broader historiographical investigations. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

• Art and illness as metaphor
• Self-portraiture and illness
• Psycho-biographical readings of art
• Medical illustration
• Technologies of the body
• Medical and visual culture collaborations
• Perceived healing powers of devotional objects

Papers should be 20 minutes in length. Abstracts of 250 words and a brief biography indicating your institutional affiliation should be submitted as a single Word.doc by email to All speakers must be members of the AAH.
Paper Proposal deadline: 1 August 2014
This event is supported by Supported by the Wellcome Trust and Birkbeck School of Arts & Centre for Medical Humanities

Convenors: Sophie Frost, Fiona Johnstone & Nicola McCartney

AAH Members £15
Non-members £25
See more at:​

The Business of War Photography, at first hand in Paris

I have followed the career of the Berlin artist, Martin Dammann, for the past twenty years, as he has moved from video art to watercolour and drawing, while remaining true to his original inspiration, the complex, unresolved relationship that he (and the Germans) have to the Second World War. This obviously controversial subject matter has always been complemented by a highly reflexive engagement with artistic form and perception, informed by Paul Virilio and his considerations of warfare and the logistics of modern perception.

The key shift in Dammann’s career came around the turn of the millennium. Up to this point he had primarily in the medium of video art, in which he had engaged with archive footage of the aerial war in Europe between 1940 and 1945, in a series of works which toyed with conventions regarding the perception of movement and the archival trace. Now he began to dovetail his artistic production more closely with his ‘real’ job, which was as a collector of materials, primarily photography, for the Archive of Modern Conflict in London. These photographs were vernacular images from both the first and second world wars, primarily from German citizens or combatants. Dammann’s procedure, however, involved translating these (often small format) photographs into large format watercolour paintings. At the time (2002), a noticeable trend was emerging in German art production that favoured watercolours (‘Aquarelle’ in German), so Dammann’s formal shift also dovetailed with current developments that provided favourable market conditions for his paintings (that, and being represented by Barbara Thumm, one of the most influential of Berlin gallerists, with the likes of Julian Opie on her books at that time). Over the past ten years, Dammann has continued to produce large-scale watercolours, but has also worked with photograph enlargements as well as the occasional video work. He has also moved, more recently, beyond the frame of vernacular photography, to offer watercolour reworkings of photographs that he or others in his family circle have taken, as I see it, precisely in order to get his audience to think about the formal questions and provocations which his paintings pose with regard to originality, representation, legibility and the act of photography.

The past decade has seen Dammann’s reputation grow; he has had solo exhibitions across Europe (Vienna, Paris and Duesseldorf amongst others), and a retrospective of his work was staged at the Kunsthalle Recklinghausen in 2009.

14164284398_517cfbb6d5_bThis May I had the opportunity to observe Dammann as he prepared for another solo exhibition in Paris, at the In Situ gallery in the Rue Michel Le Comte, just on the western edge of the Marais district. Dammann also had another exhibition already running in the Rue Paul Valery, ‘Dieses Feuer’ (‘This Fire’) and I visited this first. It was staged in the Atelier Ruart, which had formerly been the studio of Berthe Morisot, and was thus a hybrid space, part of living area, part atelier, which did not lend itself himself to gallery display. Dammann had thus sought to engage with the ‘studio space’ by exhibiting a number of ‘Vorarbeiten’ to his watercolours, alongside three finished works in the ground floor room and corridor.


Crucially he had used a small cube-like room under the main studio space to install a haunting set of photographs from his archive. This radically different choice of material and staging lent something very dramatic to the whole, and gave the ‘fire’ of the exhibition title a darker resonance (two of the photographs are of burning buildings; only in conversation with Dammann does it emerge that the images are of Russian villages torched by the German army).

This sense of the exhibition space as determining the installation is something that became very apparent as I observed Dammann prepare to populate the rooms in the Rue Michel Le Comte before the opening of his ‘Zeichnung’ (‘Drawing’).

14258918803_24d57d0505_b   14350049684_d703ff9855_b

This exhibition exemplifies Dammann’s ongoing exploration of the limits of his chosen form. In some cases, he has painted watercolours on the hard boards which he previously used to hold the pinned-on watercolour papers of an earlier painting.

14247706601_17a0c310a3_bThis lends a very different material quality to the dried paint, compared with the traditional shapes which he tests and pushes in the watercolours in the Atelier Ruart. The centrepiece of the exhibition are a series of pencil drawings which are not ‘Vorskizzen’ to larger works, but finished artefacts. Yet the openness which marks the whole exhibition is underlined by the refusal to frame the works, meaning that a fluidity across the display walls is ensured.

14164248418_c60846f1cb_bDammann’s engagement with the exhibition space becomes evident in his refusal to simply fill the walls with ‘product’. One wall was left entirely blank, another wall was empty until the last day of hanging. There was a quite specific choreographed rhythm to the display; including the use of a ‘dead-end’ space (with black walls), in which Dammann hung a watercolour that he only finished over the three days of the hanging period.

The ‘war’ was much less thematically evident in this exhibition than it was in the Atelier Ruart, or indeed in Dammann’s very recent Berlin exhibition in the Kuenstsaele on ‘Schilderwaelder’ (Sign Forests’) which was largely composed of enlarged photographs of the forests of signs that were erected in the occupied regions of Soviet Russia during the Second World War by German troops to orientate themselves in a foreign country.

That exhibition actually alludes to the questions Dammann asks of the viewer in ‘Zeichnung’: if a photograph captures a past time, then what are the mechanisms by which we orientate ourselves when confronted by a sign from that past, where the referent is invisible, and indeed in a process of dissolution (here, the watercolour as the medium of dissolution is now transferred to the line of the drawing). One of the games one can play here is how is precisely think about how the drawings/paintings invite the identification of figures (which after all only offers a brief indication towards what might have been).

What continues to fascinate me about Dammann’s work is this engagement with the question of the mechanisms by which we are fascinated with the past, with the idea of the photographic image as trace of an elusive past. Hence the use of colour, which has resonances with the relatively contemporary fascination with the ‘war in colour’. Dammann’s use of colour evokes emotional response (his own!) to the photographs, which is then transmitted to us as viewers of his paintings. Moving to drawing is interesting in that it replaces that ‘Farbenlehre’ with the violence of his lines, the almost eradication of the figure from the past at the same time as its evocation.







Simon Ward (