Keynote Speakers

Michelle Henning

Michelle Henning is Chair in Photography and Media at the University of Liverpool, School of the Arts.

An artist and designer as well as an academic, Henning has written on photography, cultural history, museums, modernism, and new media. Her books are Museums, Media and Cultural Theory (2006), Museum Media (2015) and Photography: The Unfettered Image (2018). She is one of the contributors to Photography: A Critical Introduction (2015, 5th ed.), and to the original 1995 edition of The Photographic Image in Digital Culture.

She has written numerous chapters and articles for journals such as Photographies, New Formations, Radical Philosophy and Visual Culture in Britain. She was art director for PJ Harvey’s album The Hope Six Demolition Project (2015) and designed the cover of her Let England Shake (2011). In 2018-19 she was awarded an AHRC Leadership Fellowship for a project entitled Aesthetics, Industry and Innovation in Twentieth Century Photography: The Ilford Archive. This project set out to contribute to a larger move in photography studies, away from older analyses of a break between analogue and digital image to a more nuanced understanding of the material, industrial and technological basis of twentieth-century photographic practices, through a case study on Ilford Limited. This has led to public workshops, a conference and a number of forthcoming publications. Henning is on the advisory editorial board of Photographies Journal and is one of the series editors for the Routledge series Directions in Cultural History.

Ben Burbridge

Ben Burbridge is a writer, curator and academic. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Art History and Co-Director of the Centre for Photography and Visual Culture at the University of Sussex, UK. Much of his work explores relationships between photography, contemporary art and left politics.

A former co-editor at Photoworks magazine (2011-2016), Burbridge has written numerous articles, chapters and essays for publications including Photography and Culture, Philosophy of Photography, and FOAM, and has presented his work internationally at venues including Tate Modern, London, Whitworth Gallery, Machester and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. He had led a number of large-scale, collaborative projects that straddled different platforms, including books, websites, exhibitions, artists’ commissions, and events. They include the 2012 Brighton Photo Biennial 2012, Agents of Change: Photography and the Politics of Space, Revelations: Experiments in Photography(the Science Museum, London, National Media Museum, Bradford and MACK, 2015-6) and Either/And(Media Space, London 2011-15). He is co-founder of the AHRC-funded Ph: The Photography Research Network and co-editor of Photography Reframed: New Visions in Contemporary Photographic Culture(IB Tauris, 2018).

Burbridge’s forthcoming book, Photography After Capitalism (Goldsmiths 2020), is about the hidden labour of contemporary photographic culture. It is part of a larger project that has so far encompassed essays, events, an international symposium, performances and a semi-fictional start-up specialising in ‘the creative production, efficient circulation and critical consumption of post-capitalist photography’. He is also working on a project about art, cultural memory and the UK rave scene.

Adel Abidin

“My art uses various media such as videos, video installations, multimedia sculptures and sound based installations and photography to explore the issues of the contemporary world that we are living in. My main point of departure is always linked to my intention to explore the complex relationship between visual art and politics & identity. Using a sharp palette of irony and humour I find myself gravitated towards different social situations dealing with elusive experiences and cultural alienation.

I use my cross-cultural background (as an Iraqi artist living between Helsinki and Amman) to create a distinct visual language often laced with sarcasm and paradox, while maintaining an ultimately humanistic approach. This sarcasm I use is nothing but a medium of provocation to serve the purpose of extending the mental borders of the artwork beyond the limits of the exhibition space. I am always interested in creating opportunities to prolong the discussions beyond my artwork by enabling the audience to convey mental elements from the work into their daily life.

Moreover, I always find the words ‘politics’ and ‘identity’ more than a terminology or a path that I travel in, as they unfold to other concepts like discrimination, mass media manipulation etc”.  

Adel Abidin was born in Baghdad (1973) and currently resides in Helsinki. He received a B.A. in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad (2000) and an M.F.A from the Academy of Fine Arts in Time and Space Art in Helsinki (2005).

He has been represented in galleries including: Hauser & Wirth Gallery, London (2013) and his work continues to be well represented in major private and public collections.

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Please Note: Unfortunately, Sarah Kember has had to cancel as keynote speaker. In her place Ben Burbridge will be the second keynote speaker in Helsinki Photomedia 2020.