PhD Viva completed 2019-2020
Åsa Johannesson: The Queering of Photography: A Generative Encounter
This thesis considers what a queering of photography entails. It is situated in photographic studio practice using a large format camera, and is supported by aspects of materially informed, non-dialectical theories. Key thinkers include Karen Barad, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Johnny Golding, Martin Heidegger, Jean-François Lyotard, and Luce Irigaray. The original contribution to knowledge that this thesis offers comprises of a rethinking the ways in which a photograph is ontologically conditioned. It proposes a new concept of the photographic image that addresses its materiality – in the form of the poetic and the sensuous – in relationship to a generative principle: the photograph’s ability to claim agential movement outside of pre-established measures. This generativity forms the bases for a materially rooted, queer, methodology that overturns the binary rooted logic that underpins the dominant discourse of photography, for example truth/falsehood, copy/original, subject/object, analogue/digital.
The thesis has been developed through the production of the photographic works Looking Out, Looking In; Turn; Figural, Figurative; Frame; and Skin, and is structured in three parts; Binary, Material Image, and Encounter. Binary problematises how representation has reduced queer to identity by positioning it in opposition to heteronormativity and photography’s amplification of this fixity. This concern of agential deficiency is further addressed by outlining how the photograph has been granted agency when theorised. The thesis proposes that the photograph has predominantly been conditioned as something less than what it is: as a mediator (of a referent, of the human psyche, of new technological dissemination). The second part, Material Image, turns to the photograph’s material constitution. Addressed materially, the photograph is enabled agency as image: no longer made passive as a mediator, it is ontologically conditioned through a self-referentiality. Queer is here presented as generative process where materialities and dimensions are renegotiated. The third part of the thesis, Encounter, addresses the causality underpinning this generative condition. While duration, light, and different spatial conditions within the camera optics comprise key ingredients, the metric measure enables their cohesion as image. In this way, the image reveals the queering of photography and the underpinning causality grounds it. Entangling traditional photographic disciplines with contemporary feminist concerns, this PhD culminates in making present how existence is conditioned through the human measure.
Link to thesis >
Åsa Johannesson website >