Past Events

Concerning Photography, Day 1: Institutions, Infrastructures and Pedagogies

Conference, Lecture – Shoair Mavlian, Anne McNeill, David Bate, Taous R Dahmani, Andrew Dewdney, Annebella Pollen, Karen Shepherdson, Juliet Hacking, Anne Lyden, Mahtab Hussain

  • 25 November 2021
  • 10:30 – 4:15 pm
  • Th first day of an online conference marking 50 years of The Photographers Gallery.
  • Online

10.30 Welcome by Mark Hallett (Director, Paul Mellon Centre) and Brett Rogers (Director, The Photographers' Gallery)

Panel 1: Institutions, Infrastructures

10.45 Shoair Mavlian (Chair) introduces panel 1

10.50 Anne McNeill, ‘Institutions, Infrastructure and Exhibitions: The Case of Impressions Gallery’

11.05 David Bate, ‘1979: A Snapshot of the UK’

11.20 Taous R Dahmani, ‘Creating Autograph ABP’

11.35 Questions from the audience chaired by Shoair Mavlian

11.50 Break

12.05 Andrew Dewdney, ‘Forget Photography: The Arts Council and the Disappearance of Independent Photography in Neoliberal Britain’

12.20 Annebella Pollen, ‘Exploring our weaknesses on the international stage: British Council photography and self-critique in the 1970s and 1980s’

12.35 Questions from the audience and panel discussion, chaired by Shoair Mavlian

13.00 End

Panel 2: Pedagogies

14.15 Welcome back by Sarah Victoria Turner (Deputy Director, Paul Mellon Centre)

14.20 Karen Shepherdson (Chair) introduces panel 2

14.25 Juliet Hacking, ‘Talking Pictures: Teaching Photography as Art in Higher Education’

14.40 Anne Lyden, ‘The Glasgow Degree’

14.55 Questions from the audience and panel discussion, chaired by Karen Shepherdson

15.10 Break

Panel 2: Keynote

15.20 Keynote introduction by Luisa Ulyett (Curator: Talks & Events, The Photographers' Gallery)

15:20 Artist Keynote, Mahtab Hussain

15.50 Keynote discussion and questions from the audience, moderated by Luisa Ulyett

16.15 End

In partnership with:

About the speakers

  • Headshot of Shoair Mavlian

    Shoair Mavlian is Director of Photoworks. She is responsible for the strategic vision and artistic direction of the organisation including exhibitions, publishing, digital content and learning, and engagement. From 2011–2018 Mavlian was Assistant Curator, Photography and International Art at Tate Modern, London, where she curated exhibitions including Don McCullin (2019), Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art (2018), The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography From the Sir Elton John Collection (2016) and Conflict, Time, Photography (2014). While at Tate Modern she helped build the photography collection and curated collection displays enjoyed by over five million visitors per year. In 2018 she was named one of Apollo magazine’s 40 under 40 Europe – Thinkers.

    Recent Photoworks projects include Photoworks Festival: Propositions for Alternative Narratives (2020), Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, Zone Grise/The Land in Between (MEP, Paris 2019) and Brighton Photo Biennial: A New Europe (2018).

  • Anne McNeill headshot

    Anne McNeill has played a role in British photography as curator, editor and writer in a career spanning nearly four decades. She began her career in the darkrooms at Camerawork 1984, founding Director of Photoworks 1995 and Artistic Director of Photo98, the UK Year of Photography. Since 2000, McNeill is the Director of Impressions Gallery, a charity that helps people understand the world through photography.

    Recent writing includes Zanele Muholi (2019) Granta Art+Photography and Being Inbetween (Bluecoat Press, 2020).

    Her most recent project In Which Language Do We Dream? (2021) considers the power of authentic representation from the photographic perspective of a Syrian refugee family. This is a co-authored exhibition, with McNeill guiding the photographic selection through collaboration and discussion with socially engaged photographer Rich Wiles and the al-Hindawi family.

  • David Bate Headshot

    David Bate is photographic artist, historian and Professor of Photography at the University of Westminster in London. UK. Publications include: Photography: Art Essentials (Thames & Hudson, 2021), Photography as Critical Practice: Notes on Otherness (University of Chicago/Intellect, 2020), Photography: Key Concepts (Routledge, 2019), Art Photography (Tate Publications, 2015), Zone (Artwords, 2012), Photography and Surrealism: Sexuality, Colonialism and Social Dissent (London: IB Tauris, 2004) and Zero Culture (Danielle Arnaud, 2000). He is co-editor of Photographies journal (Oxford: Routledge) and has made many contributions to the history, theory and practice of photography.

  • Taous R Dahmani headshot

    Taous R. Dahmani is a PhD candidate in the History of Art Department at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. She is writing a thesis in the history of photography, under the supervision of Professor Michel Poivert, and has taught the history of twentieth-century photography there for three years. She is the recipient of the Prix de la Chancellerie and as a consequence was based in Oxford at the Maison Française in 2019/2020. Her thesis is entitled Direct Action Photography: A Typography of the Photographic Representation of Struggles and the Struggle for Photographic Representations (London, 1968–1989). Her chapter on Polareyes, a 1987 Black British female photographic journal, is forthcoming in Feminist and Queer Activism in Britain and the United States in the Long 1980s, (SUNY, 2021). In October 2020 she organised and convened the conference Let Us Now Praise Famous Women: Women’s Labour to Uncover the Works of Female Photographers at the Weston Library, University of Oxford. She is also editor and content advisor for The Eyes magazine and a trustee of the Photo Oxford Festival.

  • Andrew Dewdney Headshot

    Andrew Dewdney is Co-director and Co-founder of The Centre for the Study of the Networked Image, and Professor of Educational Media at London South Bank University. He has written and lectured widely on new media and museology. His new book Forget Photography (2021) is published by Goldsmiths Press. Of particular note to this paper is that he chaired the Arts Council Photography Advisory Panel between 1992–95.

  • Annebella Pollen headshot

    Dr Annebella Pollen is Reader in the History of Art and Design at the University of Brighton. She has published on the history of photography in Britain. Her books include Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life (2015) and Photography Reframed: New Visions in Contemporary Photographic Culture (2018, co-edited with Ben Burbridge). She has two new books forthcoming: Nudism in a Cold Climate, a study of British nude photography, 1920s-1970s, and Art Without Frontiers, a commissioned history of the British Council’s art collection and its use in international cultural relations since 1935.

  • Karen Shepherdson Headshot

    Dr Karen Shepherdson is Programme Director and Reader for Photography at London College of Communication. Karen is a recognised academic researcher and practitioner within the field of photography. Since 2016 she has been a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College and in 2017 was appointed Co-editor of the Journal for Photography and Culture (with special responsibility for Europe and the UK). She considers her roles as curator, writer, practising artist and academic researcher emphatically supportive of each other, with research underpinning practice and practice illuminating research and teaching. Prior to joining UAL, Karen was Co-director of the Centre for Research on Communities and Cultures and also Director of Postgraduate Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University’s School of Creative Arts and Industries. Karen has supervised and examined PhD and Masters by Research students and has designed learning materials specifically for practice-based postgraduate researchers. She has a continued an interest in theory-practice interchange.

  • Juliet Hacking headshot

    Juliet Hacking is the Programme Director of the MA in Contemporary Art, and Subject Leader in Photography, at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London. She is the General Editor of Photography: The Whole Story (2012; 2021); author of Lives of the Great Photographers (2015) [both Thames & Hudson], author of Photography and the Art Market (Lund Humphries, 2018) and the Co-editor (with Joanne Lukitsh) of Photography & the Arts: Essays on 19th-Century Practices and Debates (Bloomsbury, 2020). She is also Co-series Editor of Hot Topics in the Art World with Lund Humphries (forthcoming, beginning October 2021).

  • Anne Lyden Headshot

    Anne Lyden is Chief Curator, Photography at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh where she is responsible for a collection of 55,000 photographs. Prior to joining NGS, Anne was Associate Curator of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including the work of Hill and Adamson, Paul Strand and Diane Arbus. She is the author of several books including, Railroad Vision: Photography, Travel and Perception (2003), The Photographs of Frederick H. Evans (2010), A Royal Passion: Photography and Queen Victoria (2014) and, most recently, A Perfect Chemistry: The Photographs of Hill & Adamson (2017).

  • British artist Mahtab Hussain (b. 1981) explores the significant relationships between identity, heritage and displacement. His themes develop through long-term research, articulating a visual language that challenges the prevailing concepts of multiculturalism. He received his BA in History of Art at Goldsmith’s College, London, specialising in postcolonialism and photography (2002) and his MA in Museum and Gallery Management from City University, London (2006). He completed his MA in Photography at Nottingham Trent University in 2013.

    His You Get Me? series focused on young working class Asian men in contemporary Britain. The exhibition was curated by Mark Sealy and launched at Autograph ABP, London in 2017 before travelling on to Impressions Gallery, Bradford and Gallery Oldham. His Going Back Home to Where I Came From, series made in Kashmir and Pakistan explored ideas around homeland, loss, memory and the overview effect, and was exhibited at New Art Gallery Walsall. His Honest With You series is about femininity, sisterhood, resistance and the political defiance of British Muslim women.

    Mahtab Hussain has been recipient of numerous awards and commissions from institutions including; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; New Art Exchange, Nottingham; Arts Council England; and the Arts Humanities Research Council. He was also winner of the Curators Choice Award, Culture Cloud at New Art Exchange and Format 13 Portfolio Review Award for most significant review. Hussain was selected as the 2015 Light Work + Autograph ABP Artist-in-Residence, and was chosen from five hundred international artists to be ‘discovery artist’ under the prestigious Discoveries Award in 2016 at Houston FotoFest.