Conference Photography Performing Humor

The international conference “Photography Performing Humor” will explore the nature and meaning of the relationship between photography, performance and humor within the field of visual arts and visual culture.

Although humor is clearly omnipresent in a wide spectrum of photographic practices — ranging from advertising or art photography to family snapshots with their obligatory ‘smile’ or the classic Tower of Pisa joke — the topic has yet to be fully discovered by researchers. While in recent years photography theory has witnessed the affective turn, its focus remained largely on photographic representations of suffering, trauma and loss.

It is no coincidence then, that one of the central metaphors to think the affective quality of the medium, Barthes’ punctum, relates affect to being wounded. This conference resolutely chooses to elaborate a lighter, humorous side of photography and aims to map different strategies and practices.



LUCA School of Arts
Paleizenstraat 70, 1030 Brussels

The evening lectures on 13 April (8 pm) take place at:
Vlaams-Nederlands Huis deBuren
Leopoldstraat 6, 1000 Brussels


13/04 > 14/04/2016


Attendance to the conference is free but registration is required before the 8th of April 2015.

Register by sending an email to

Conference Programme

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

  • 9:00 am Coffee & registration
  • 10:00 am Welcome
    Carl Van Eyndhoven (dean LUCA School of Arts)
  • 10:10 am Opening word
    Mieke Bleyen (KU Leuven)
  • 10:30 am Keynote lecture
    Louis Kaplan (University of Toronto)
    A Morbid Sense of Humor: Reflections on Photography’s Dark Comedy
    Moderator: Hilde Van Gelder
  • 11:30 am Coffee break
  • 11:45 am Heather Diack (University of Miami)
    Playing It Straight: The Alliance of Humor and Photography in Conceptual Art
  • 12:15 pm Sandra Križić Roban (Institute of Art History, Zagreb)
    Elements of Humor in Proto- and Conceptual Photography in Croatia
  • 12:45 pm Johan Pas (Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp)
    “Défense de photographier.” Parody as a Postmodern Strategy in Some European Artists’ Books, 1960s-70s
    Moderator: Liesbeth Decan
  • 1:15 pm Lunch break
  • 2:30 pm Sian Bonnell (based in Cornwall; Falmouth University, Cornwall)
    Wilful Amateur
  • 3:00 pm Lieven Segers (based in Antwerp; MAD-Faculty, Hogeschool PXL, Hasselt – LUCA School of Arts, Genk)
    8 words on making something good
  • 3:30 pm Thomas Mailaender (based in Paris and Marseille)
    Screening A Very Serious Job
    Moderator: Nicola Setari
  • 4:00 pm Break
  • 8:00 pm Lieven Gevaert Leerstoel Lectures (at deBuren, Leopoldstraat 6, 1000 Brussel)
    Paulien Oltheten (based in Amsterdam)
    Sifting and sorting / centrifugal thoughts
    Hilde D’haeyere (KASK School of Arts, University College Ghent)
    CINEMACINE. Lecture on the Mechanisms of Screen Comedy
    Moderators: Mieke Bleyen & Liesbeth Decan
  • 9:30 pm Reception

Thursday, 14 April 2016

  • 9:30 am Coffee & registration
  • 10:00 am Keynote lecture
    Esther Leslie (Birkbeck University of London)
    Photography and Laughter’s Shattered Articulation
    Moderator: Edwin Carels
  • 11:00 am Coffee break
  • 11:15 am Alexandra Olivia Tait (University College London)
    Düsseldorf’s Commedia dell’Arte: Artistic Self-Staging in polke/richter richter/polke (1966)
  • 11:45 am Ann Kristin Krahn (Braunschweig University of the Arts)
    Adding a Giggle: Lee Friedlander’s Practice of the “Shadow Self-Portrait”
  • 12:15 pm Andrei Venghiac (based in Gothenburg)
    Reflections on the Concept of Play
    Moderator: Volkmar Mühleis
  • 12:45 pm Lunch break
  • 2:00 pm George Emeka Agbo (University of the Western Cape)
    Facebook and Photographic Humourisation of Political Activism in Nigeria
  • 2:30 pm Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
    Uneasy laughter. Photography and Humor in Poland
  • 3:00 pm David Helbich (based in Brussels)
    Being Part of the Problem is the Solution. Sharing and Conceptual Art. On “Belgian Solutions” and “Trying to Look Like a Building”
  • 3:30 pm Kevin Atherton (based in Dublin; National College of Art and Design, Dublin)
    Performing the Performance Documentation
    Moderator: Els Opsomer
  • 4:00 pm Mieke Bleyen (KU Leuven) & Liesbeth Decan (LUCA School of Arts)
    Closing remarks
  • 4:15 pm Reception

The conference ‘Photography Performing Humor’ is organized by LUCA School of Arts in collaboration with KU Leuven, Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography, Lieven Gevaert Leerstoel vzw, and Het Vlaams-Nederlands Huis deBuren.

Generously supported by OPAK Research Fund (LUCA School of Arts) and Lieven Gevaert Leerstoel vzw.