Photography Performing Humor

Edited by Liesbeth Decan and Mieke Bleyen

Regular price €39.50 (including 6% VAT) Sale

Edited volume - paperback

New perspectives on humor within photography
Despite the ubiquitous presence of photographic humor in art and popular media, the phenomenon has as yet received very little scholarly attention. Focusing on staged humor rather than on comic effects of snapshot photography, this volume brings together leading scholars in the field addressing humor performed in front of the camera, often specifically created for the camera, and the performative joke-work done by the medium itself. A first section explores how photography, due to its “shattering” qualities, turns into a privileged medium for eliciting humorous effects and how humor can be discerned within the photographic event. A second section discusses the toolbox of photographic trickery (photomontage, double exposure and cinematic movement) that allows photography to mock itself. The book closes with a section on photographic wit in conceptual art, both in canonized and more locally distinct practices.

With artists’ pages from Paulien Oltheten, Lieven Segers and David Helbich

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Contributors: Kevin Atherton (National College of Art and Design, Dublin), Anna Corrigan and Susana S. Martins (Universidade NOVA de Lisboa), Hilde D’haeyere (KASK School of Arts of University College Ghent), Heather Diack (University of Miami), Louis Kaplan (University of Toronto), Ann Kristin Krahn (Braunschweig University of the Arts), Sandra Križić Roban (Institute of Art History, Zagreb), Esther Leslie (Birkbeck University of London), Johan Pas (Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp), Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Artist’s pages by Paulien Oltheten


Mieke Bleyen & Liesbeth Decan

Part I
Finding Humor in the Photographic Event

Photography and Laughter’s Shattered Articulation
Esther Leslie
Falling as Art: On Orchestrated Accidents in Photographic Practice in Poland
Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans
Adding a Giggle: Lee Friedlander’s Practice of the “Shadow Self-Portrait”
Ann Kristin Krahn
Performing the Performance Documentation
Kevin Artheron

Part II
Making Fun of Photography through Tricks and Montage

Ghosts Just for Laughs: Spirit Photography and Debunking Humor
Louis Kaplan
Comedy Performs Photography: Imaginations of Photography in Silent Film Comedies
Hilde D’haeyere
Feminism, Laughter, and Photomontage: Comedic Effect and Grete Stern’s Sueños
Anna Corrigan & Susana S. Martins

Part III
Photographic Wit in Conceptual Art

Keeping a Straight Face: Photography and the Performance of Conceptual Art
Heather Diack
“No Photographs Allowed”: Conceptual Wit in Some Belgian Photo-based Artists’ Books
Johan Pas
Laughter Protocol: Elements of Humor in Proto- and Conceptual Photography in Croatia
Sandra Križić Roban

About the Authors
Artist’s pages by Lieven Segers
Artist’s pages by David Helbich

Format: Edited volume - paperback

Size: 230 × 170 × 14 mm

216 pages

32 pp. full colour (2 sections)

ISBN: 9789462701656

Publication: March 06, 2019

Series: Lieven Gevaert Series 26

Languages: English

Stock item number: 126981

Liesbeth Decan teaches theory and history of photography at LUCA School of Arts Brussels, where she is also the coordinator of the research group Photography Expanded.
Mieke Bleyen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography, Art and Visual Culture and the Institute for Cultural Studies at the KU Leuven.
En examinant l’humour en photographie, ce volume propose un parcours dans l’histoire du médium et offre l’occasion aux lecteurs de multiples potentialités de découvrir, ou redécouvrir, des corpus souvent négligés. L’intérêt de cette réflexion collective réside finalement plus dans la revalorisation de ces objets photographiques, culturels et artistiques considérés comme anecdotiques que dans une véritable conceptualisation de ce que serait un humour performatif.
Valérie Morisson, Focales n° 4 : Photographies mises en espaces, mis à jour le 19/05/2020, URL :

The book is well designed, with black-and-white illustrations in every chapter. The essays are bookended by colourful (and humorous) ‘artist’s pages’ by Paulien Oltheten, Lieven Segers and David Helbich, demonstrating the editors’ stated commitment to giving the book ‘both a theoretical and practice-based component’(p.22). Stills from Oltheten’s La Défense, The Venturing Gaze, which open the book (Fig.9), exemplify the implicit self-reflexivity of much photographic practice. Oltheten includes subtitles of humorous comments made by the people photographed, making subjects of the camera and the photographer themselves. Bleyen’s and Decan’s book will be useful to scholars and those with an interest in photography and humour theory, as well as individuals interested more generally in the affective turn in art criticism.
Seth Graham, The Burlington Magazine | 162 | March 2020