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Dr Wiebke Leister

Senior Lecturer in MA Photography
London College of Communication
Email address
Researcher Research
Wiebke  Leister


Dr Wiebke Leister is a German artist and researcher. She studied photography, typography and media theory at Essen University (Folkwang University of the Arts) and gained a PhD from the Royal College of Art in London.

Her research challenges the limitations of photographic representation, often focusing on the human image as a canvas, a medium or an agent. Committed to interdisciplinary approaches and working in collaboration, her work seeks transformative and performative conditions of portraiture in which the image becomes a catalyst for an interplay between image and imaginary referent. Actively involving the viewer in the promises and failures of visual representation, her research engages with the interfacing of human boundaries and explores how we encounter ourselves in others. As an artist she works with photography, projection, performance, drawing and collage; her writing is in English and German and her written practice spans from academic papers to text-based installations for the gallery.

Wiebke has been teaching on MA Photography at LCC since 2004, and was its Course Leader from 2013-21. Building on methods of artistic research and experimental pedagogics, she established MA Photography internationally with a focus on conceptual lens-based installation practices. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, recipient of a collaborative UAL Teaching Scholars Award 2016-18, and supervises PhD students across different UAL colleges. She also taught fine art photography, integration of theory & practice, intermedial practices and artistic research at Fachhochschule Bielefeld, Folkwang Universität der Künste and The Photographers' Gallery in London. 2018-19 she was DAAD Professor of Photography in Bielefeld, funded by the German government as part of an ongoing internationalisation programme.

Wiebke has also worked in public institutions, organising international events, conferences and exhibitions. She is a co-organiser 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. Ongoing research groups include the Theatre of Photography research network, the Writing Photographs teaching and research project and the Interdisciplinary Practice Research Forum. Since 2021 she is a member of the UAL Shared Campus Steering Group and on the Advisory Board of the Journal of Arts Writing by Students.

Grants and awards

(Figures indicate amount awarded to UAL)

  • German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD Visiting Professorship
  • Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung
  • The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Hoshi's Mask, £1,600.00, (2018-2018)
  • Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, CAST- Noh theatre, death masks, life casts and photographic performance (Sasakawa), £1,600.00, (2018-2018)
  • German Academic Exchange Service London Office, PhD scholarship
  • German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD scholarship

Research Outputs

Art/Design item





Current research students

  • Vicente Richards Ana, Performativity, materiality and affect in contemporary artistic-pedagogic practice: how other stories of the self and understandings of contexts and environments can unfold, be revealed and imagined through the body (LCC) (Joint supervisor)
  • 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 (LCF) (Joint supervisor)
  • Rachel Cherry, How do you experience being photographed? A practice-based approach to photography from the perspective of the subject (CSM) (Joint supervisor)
  • Lorenza Demata, The role of photography in the representation and redefinition of transnational identities (LCC) (Lead supervisor)
  • Sinead Evans, Critiquing documentarism in illustration: the image of water as an intruding force (Joint supervisor)

Past research students

  • Maria Kheirkhah, Another Emerging: Re-constructing the Islamo-Orientalised Female Other in Contemporary Western Visual Culture (TrAIN) (Lead supervisor)
  • Ope Lori, The oppositional gaze: Contemporary image-making practice and the implications of skin colour ideals. (TrAIN) (Joint supervisor)
  • Sukey Parnell, Hagging the Image – the role of photographic images in contemporary narratives of ageing and 'femininity' with Anglo American society (UWL) (Joint supervisor)


Fine art
Performance and design for theatre and screen