Dr Wiebke Leister

Course Leader, MA Photography Member of Photography and the Archive Research Centre

London College of Communication

Biography

Wiebke Leister is a German artist and writer living in London. She studied photography at the University in Essen (Folkwang) and gained a PhD from the Royal College of Art in London.

As well as being course leader for MA Photography at London College of Communication, she has exhibited and published her work internationally, receiving several awards. She is a co-organizer of the Photography and the Contemporary Imaginary Research Hub and a core member of the Photography and the Archive Research Centre at University of the Arts London. She also taught fine art photography at Fachhochschule Bielefeld and Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen, and has worked in different museum contexts, organizing conferences and exhibitions.

Research interests

Portraiture as non-likeness; representation of faciality; facial expression; triangle of signification photographer-image-viewer; cultural imaginary; collective memory; visual histories; photographic archives; image philosophies; practice-led research.

Research statement

Wiebke's work investigates the conditions of photographic non-likeness by focusing on representations of faciality and the photographic presentation of expressive signs of the face in relation to its facial canvas. Actively involving the viewer in the promises and failures of visual representation, her work engages with the interfacing of human boundaries and explores how we encounter ourselves in others. As an artist she works with photography, drawing and collage; her writing is in English and German and her written practice spans from academic papers and reviews to fiction, including text-based works for the gallery.

Her project Unjoyful Laughter and the Non-Likeness of Photographic Portraiture¹ (2006) questions the representational power of photography as a chance to rethink the photograph as a rather fleeting imago. The case study of laughter allowed her to look at the open mouth, immobilized by the photographic process, and to revisit it - perhaps as a scream, perhaps as a sigh, perhaps as an expression of joy.

The project ´Lovers, Liars and Laughter´ (2008) extends this earlier research interest in the mouth and the photographic portrayal of laughing and smiling, now looking at the rather invisible and unattainable features of love and kissing. She currently works on a theory-practice project investigating iconographies of whitened faces performance in different cultural contexts.

Students

Current students and thesis titles

Paul Bevan, Photography performed: what are the possibilities when photography becomes an act of its own investigation and does this embody the void between image and event.

Marcia Michael, What visual historical representation of my ancestral heritage/identity can be rendered and reclaimed from narratives (archives, interviews and objects) available during 1700-1940's in Jamaica and the UK?

S. Cemre Yesil, The photographic embodiment of an embrace: the mother-child constellation as a paradigm to explore the nature of the photographic double-portrait and how it manifests both the physical and mental relationship between self and other.

Completed students and thesis titles

Ope Lori, The oppositional gaze: Contemporary image-making practice and the implications of skin colour ideals. (TrAIN)

 

Selected research outputs