Ulrich Gebert

Other-worldly things. Photography, New Objectivity and relationship to the world


Photography’s relationship to the world only seems simple as first glance. Photographic theory has followed many a trail, only to end – in most cases – with the metaphor of the vestige. And yet, after almost 200 years of photographic practice, evidence of a dilemma, an uneasiness, something inexplicable, eerie, sometimes even magical can be found in works and theoretical approaches equally: the perceived otherness of photography. 

Students explore the abstracting effect of photography by looking at the example of New Objectivity in photography. The objective and subjective aspects of the medium are critically examined in order for students to gain a contemporary understanding of photographic relations to the world. Here, classic texts on phenomenology as well as later philosophical interpretations of the medium (Francois Laruelle’s concept of non-photography in particular) will be called upon.

The programmatic failure of New Objectivity in photography, which sought its media specifics in the emphasis on objectivity, can be given a productive aspect with a view to the abstracting qualities of photography. It is precisely through its (unintended) ability to present things as being not closer to us, but strangely distant, that a fundamental virtue of photography is revealed, whose allusions reach beyond notions of world, subject and object.


  • Prof. Dr. Juliane Rebentisch