ART HISTORIAN & occasional CURATOR
Donna West Brett (PhD Sydney) is a Lecturer in Art History and Curating at the University of Sydney. Brett’s publications on German photography, modern and contemporary art include, Photography and Place: Seeing and Not Seeing Germany After 1945 (Routledge, 2016); co-editor with Natalya Lusty of Photography and Ontology: Unsettling Images (Routledge 2019); ‘Stasi Surveillance Photographs and Extra-archival Legacy,’ Photography and Culture, 2019; 'Photography, Flight and Exile in Cold War Germany', in Burcu Dogramaci and Elizabeth Otto, Passegen des Exils, Exilforschung. Ein internationales Jahrbuch, Edition text + kritik, (Munchen: Richard Boorberg Verlag, 2017); ‘Forgetting Ilse Bing’, in Kris Belden-Adams, ed. Photography and Failure: One Medium’s Entanglement with Flops, Underdogs, and Disappointments (Bloomsbury, 2017. Curated exhibitions include Unconscious Places: Photography and History for GCS Gallery, Sydney 2018, Ann Shelton: In a Forest, Australian Centre for Photography, 2012 (co-curator) and Joseph Beuys and the ‘Energy Plan’, University of Sydney, 2012. Brett is also an editorial board member for the Visual Culture and German Contexts Series, Bloomsbury Academic, Research Leader for the Photographic Cultures Research Group and recipient of the 2017 Australian Academy of the Humanities, Ernst and Rosemarie Keller Award. MORE
Photography & Ontology
Photography and Ontology: Unsettling Images
This edited collection explores the complex ways in which photography is used and interpreted: as a record of evidence, as a form of communication, as a means of social and political provocation, as a mode of surveillance, as a narrative of the self, and as an art form. What makes photographic images unsettling and how do the re-uses and interpretations of photographic images unsettle the self-evident reality of the visual field? Taking up these themes, this book examines the role of photography as a revelatory medium underscored by its complex association with history, memory, experience and identity. Edited by Donna West Brett and Natalya Lusty (Routledge 2019).
Photography & Place
Photography and Place: Seeing and Not Seeing Germany After 1945 (Routledge, 2016).
“This book gathers a fascinating collection of photographers and images, and addresses the idea of place in a way and to an extent that has not been done before in the history of German photography focused around the Cold War period and its historical roots. It offers scholars of photography, German History, and those interested in themes of memory, trauma, and landscape a useful assortment of theory and imagery and a body of discourse on these themes that contributes to the discussion of this material."
Sarah Goodrum, BTK University of Art & Design, Berlin. LINK
‘Stasi Surveillance Photographs and Extra-archival Legacy,’ in special issue ‘Photography in Transitioning European Communist and Post-Communist Histories,’ Photography and Culture, 12.2 (2019).
‘An Aesthetics of Disruption: Unsettling the Diasporic Subject,’ in a special issue ‘New Artistic Vision of the Arab Diasporas’ of the International Journal of Middle East Studies, 2019. MORE
My current research project, Photography and Home in Divided Germany, is a comparative study of the effects of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall on photographic practice in Germany. This project investigates the conditions of cultural displacement by considering photographic accounts of exile and migration in Germany between 1961–1989. This comparative study analyses how photographic practices were subjected to and affected by GDR surveillance practices, and the ways in which the concept of ‘home’ was put under pressure by the mass-movement of GDR refugees, the migrant guest-worker program in the West, and historical legacies of the Second World War. MORE