Donna West Brett is an Early Career Development Fellow in Art History at the University of Sydney, lecturing in art history and curatorial studies. She received her PhD from the University of Sydney in 2013. Areas of expertise include the history and theory of photography, modernism, international contemporary art, curatorial practice & theory. Curated exhibitions include Ann Shelton: In a Forest, Australian Centre for Photography, 2012 (co-curator) and Joseph Beuys and the ‘Energy Plan, University of Sydney, 2012.

She is author of Photography and Place: Seeing and Not Seeing Germany After 1945 (Routledge, 2016);  ‘Home and Homelessness: Ann Shelton’s Aesthetics of Displacement’ in Ann Shelton: Dark Matter (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Gallery, 2016); ‘Forgetting Ilse Bing’, in Kris Belden-Adams, ed. Photography and Failure: One Medium’s Entanglement with Flops, Underdogs, and Disappointments (Bloomsbury, 2017 in press), 'Photography, Flight and Exile in Cold War Germany', in Burcu Dogramaci and Elizabeth Otto, Passegen des Exils, Exilforschung. Ein internationales Jahrbuch, Edition text + kritik, (Munchen: Richard Boorberg Verlag, 2017 forthcoming) and ‘Interventions in Seeing: GDR Surveillance, Camouflage & the Cold War Camera’, in Camouflage Cultures: the Art of Disappearance (University of Sydney Press, 2015);. Brett is also a member of the editorial committee & reviews editor for the Australian & NZ Journal of Art, Research Leader for the Photographic Cultures Research Group and recipient of the 2017 Australian Academy of the Humanities, Ernst and Rosemarie Keller Award.


As a recording device, photography plays a unique role in how we remember places and events that happened there. This includes recording events as they happen, or recording places where something occurred before the photograph was taken, commonly referred to as aftermath photography. This book presents a theoretical and historical analysis of German photography of place after 1945. It analyses how major historical ruptures in twentieth-century Germany and associated places of trauma, memory and history affected the visual field and the circumstances of looking. These ruptures are used to generate a new reading of postwar German photography of place. The analysis includes original research on world-renowned German photographers such as Thomas Struth, Thomas Demand, Michael Schmidt, Boris Becker and Thomas Ruff as well as photographers largely unknown in the Anglophone world.

All content: © Donna West Brett