Donna West Brett is a Lecturer in Art History and Curating at the University of Sydney. 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 Unconscious Places: Photography and History for GCS Gallery, Sydney 2018, 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);  co-editor with Natalya Lusty of Photography and Ontology: Unsettling Images (Routledge 2018); '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); ‘Forgetting Ilse Bing’, in Kris Belden-Adams, ed. Photography and Failure: One Medium’s Entanglement with Flops, Underdogs, and Disappointments (Bloomsbury, 2017); Home and Homelessness: Ann Shelton’s Aesthetics of Displacement’ in Ann Shelton: Dark Matter (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Gallery, 2016); 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.


This edited collection explores the complex ways in which photography is used and interpreted: as a record of evidence, as a form of communication, as a means of social and political provocation, as a mode of surveillance, as a narrative of the self, and as an art form. What makes photographic images unsettling and how do the re-uses and interpretations of photographic images unsettle the self-evident reality of the visual field? Taking up these themes, this book examines the role of photography as a revelatory medium underscored by its complex association with history, memory, experience and identity. With essays by Andrés Mario Zervigón, Donna West Brett, Katherine Biber, Peter Doyle, Shawn Michelle Smith, Natalya Lusty, John Di Stefano, Jane Simon, Toni Ross, Daniel Palmer, and Blake Stimson.

All content: © Donna West Brett