My photo-history research is focussed on nationalist German photographers of the 1930s and 1940s as well as the influence of esoteric currents on select photographic practices. As a direct result of my research since 2010 over 500 vintage German photographs have been added to our university collection through funded purchases and through donations. This collection continues to grow. Working with donated historical negatives I have printed images that in many cases have not been seen since the 1940s and some were never in print at all. A monograph Erich Retzlaff: volksfotograf was published to accompany a touring exhibition of some of this work that I curated in conjunction with the German Historical Institute, London (2013/14). I have curated a new exhibition entitled A Radical Tradition, that opened in Manchester in 2019. The exhibition is comprised of our German photography acquisitions and additional work from period publications.
Photography in the Third Reich: Art, Physiognomy and Propaganda (book)
This lucid and comprehensive collection of essays by an international group of scholars constitutes a photo-historical survey of select photographers who embraced National Socialism during the Third Reich. These photographers developed and implemented physiognomic and ethnographic photography, and, through a Selbstgleichschaltung (a self-co-ordination with the regime), continued to practice as photographers throughout the twelve years of the Third Reich.
The volume explores, through photographic reproductions and accompanying analysis, diverse aspects of photography during the Third Reich, ranging from the influence of Modernism, the qualitative effect of propaganda photography, and the utilisation of technology such as colour film, to the photograph as ideological metaphor. With an emphasis on the idealised representation of the German body and the role of physiognomy within this representation, the book examines how select photographers created and developed a visual myth of the ‘master race’ and its antitheses under the auspices of the Nationalist Socialist state. Photography in the Third Reich approaches its historical source photographs as material culture, examining their production, construction and proliferation. This detailed and informative text will be a valuable resource not only to historians studying the Third Reich, but to scholars and students of film, history of art, politics, media studies, cultural studies and holocaust studies.
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I have an extensive exhibition record. I have participated in group and solo exhibitions for over 30 years developing an international profile with associated publications. Exhibition experience includes exhibitions in London, Johannesburg, Kansas City, Leeuwarden, Cape Town, Durban, New York, Chicago, Berlin, Baltimore, Cardiff and Pretoria. I have also exhibited alongside internationally renowned artists such as Chuck Close and Sally Mann. My practice as an experimental filmmaker resulted in a commission from the Arts Council of Wales to make a film for the O4W Fourth Wall Film Festival, Cardiff in 2012 (you can view some of my experimental films by following the link to my YouTube channel). My photographic and print work is represented in many private collections as well as institutional collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Johannesburg Art Gallery.