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Conference Session 5

Saturday 12 June 13.30-15.30
Chaired by Dr. Wolfgang Brückle (AHRC ‘Aesthetics after Photography’ Research Fellow, Art History, University of Essex)
Associate Professor Sherri Irvin (Philosophy, University of Oklahoma)
Artwork and Document in the Photography of Louise Lawler
What makes a photograph an artwork, as opposed to a mere document? I reflect on this question in relation to Louise Lawler’s photographs of others’ artworks (usually in the context of an auction, gallery or private collection). Lawler’s work provides a fascinating test case for probing this distinction, since her central aim is to examine the institutional setting in which artworks are presented and understood, and that institutional setting is precisely what makes it possible for her own photographs to be artworks rather than mere documents.
Sherri Irvin is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma. Her research interests center on the philosophy of contemporary art, the relation between aesthetics and ethics, and the aesthetics of everyday experience. She is Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art editor of Philosophy Compass and has published articles in the British Journal of Aesthetics, the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Museum Management and Curatorship, and several anthologies.
Dr. Nigel Warburton (Philosophy, Open University)
Absence and Presence in the Work of Thomas Demand
For several decades analytic philosophers have focused obsessively on the alleged automatism of photographic media and especially on the consequences for pictorial realism. This rarely sheds light on actual photography. In contrast, in this paper I examine a series of Thomas Demand’s photographs from a philosophical angle and suggest some ways philosophers might contribute to the understanding of photographic art by sometimes beginning with the particular rather than the general.
Nigel Warburton is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the Open University. He has published a number of articles on the philosophy and history of photography and edited a book about the photographer Bill Brandt. His other books include Ernö Goldfinger: the Life of an Architect; The Art Question and Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction. He regularly teaches courses on aesthetics at Tate Modern and, with David Edmonds, makes the podcast Philosophy Bites. For more information see