The symposium circling around the annual topic wants to make an advance of examining the broad field of photographic humor.

The symposium‘s topic is traditionally chosen in accordance with the festival‘s annual topic and discusses current questions connected to it from various scientific and artistic perspectives. On the occasion of »11. Darmstadt Photography Days«, five presentations by  Media Theorists, Visual Scientists  an internationally renowned artists and phtotographers will examine the topic of photographic humor more closely.

The speakers of the symposium of »11. Darmstadt Photography Days« are Naomi Harris, Erik Kessels, Kevin Pauliks M.A., Dr. Sophie-Charlotte Opitz and Juergen Teller.

The symposium will take place at Centralstation Darmstadt on the first Saturday of the festival (24 October 2020) from 10am to 6pm.

Call for papers (summer to autumn 2019)

The application deadlines for submissions ended on 30 November, 2019. Thanks a lot to all applicants!

Interdisciplinary lectures on, among others, the following hypotheses were welcome:

  • How does humour function within images: is there a general aesthetic strategy and way of representation?

  • Can classical humour-theoretical positions in the field of psychology and philosophy be used in the examination of photographs as well?

  • Black humour: are images depicting war, violence and terror allowed to also be humorous?

  • Satirical images on the internet: by the use of which means are powerful personalities and rulers depicted satirically on social media? How do their images get manipulated and retouched? And what‘s the function of memes in this context?

  • Bizarre depictions as social criticism: examples from the history of photography and art in consideration of aesthetics and history

    The absurdity of reality: aesthetical mechanisms within the field of documentary photography

  • Who laughs about which kind of images: can one identify societal divisions on the basis of reactions to humorous images (e.g. on social media)?

    Female vs. male humour: is there a genderspecific, aesthetic strategy discernible (e.g. within advertisement)?

  • Face recognition: why and how are cameras programmed in order for them to detect laughing people?

  • Funny algorythms: how can search engines detect humorous images and what are the underlying algorythms for this?


Naomi Harris

Canadian photographer Naomi Harris (*1973 in Toronto, CA) takes a closer look and documents social trends and phenomenons of the increasingly globalized and culturally homogonized world in her photographic work. By presenting her project »EUSA«, which portrays costumized protagonists of European locations with America as their topic and of American locations with Europe as their topic, Harris will give the audience a deeper understanding of her artistic practice and the often inadvertendly humorous and bizarre characteristics of our excitement for other cultures than our own. »EUSA« was nominated for the 2016 Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award and was published by Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg in 2018.

Erik Kessels

Erik Kessels (*1966 in Roermond, NL) is a Dutch artist, designer, publisher, collector and curator witha special interest in photography and »found footage«. The focus of his artistic work especially lies on the history behind images, the imperfection and mishaps of photographs by amateurs in family albums, archives and on the internet. Kessels detects invisible and by then still undiscovered patterns and, in this way, carries out a kind of visual archeology.
In Darmstadt, Kessels will give an insight into his modus operandi of Re-Appropriation of images by presenting his most recent projects. Moreover, he will discuss the role images take up in the time we live in – far away from purely being visually consumed by us.

Dr. Sophie-Charlotte Opitz

Dr. Sophie-Charlotte Opitz (*1987 in Aachen, DE) has been a scholar of the »Museum Curator for Photography« Grant from the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung since 2019. She did her PhD at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt about the productional mechanisms of contemporary war photography. In her presentation, Opitz will take a closer look at the relationship between war and humor as well as at the thought-provoking and obstinate capacity of photographic counter images, genereated as a reaction to predominant or politically given mechanisms of the perception of war.

Kevin Pauliks, M.A.

The scientific focus of Kevin Pauliks, M.A. (*1991 in Hanau, DE), media theorist and sociologist currently enrolled in a PhD-program at the Philipps-Universität Marburg, lies on the topics of Meme Studies, Game Studies and the research of seriality. In his talk »Imitating, Editing, Parody. On the mediacritical practices of political internet-memes“ about the impeachement proceedings of Donald Trump, Pauliks will address the question of how memes like these are interlinked with criticism of society and media. The examination of mediality will thereby also be a main feature of the talk in order to disclose the necessary predispositions and active principles of memes in general.

Juergen Teller

The purpose of the talk by internationally renowned photographer and commercial photographer Juergen Teller (*1964 in Erlangen, DE) is the reflection about how deeply satirical and dark humor, curiosity and self-parody play a role in the artist‘s own works, leading to unexpected and absurd scenarios for Teller, models and celebrities portrayed in the images.
Starting point of the presentation will be Tellers‘s video work »Dieter« (2017) in which he takes up the role of his alter ego Dieter – a stereotypical German version of the artist himself who has never left his hometown and who, surrounded by friends and family, walks through Teller‘s solo-show at Kunstpalais Erlangen dismissing everything he sees.