Introductory Course Spring 2023

Culture, Power, and Politics spring programme this year is in collaboration with Photobook Café in Shoreditch, East London

Dates: (Tuesday) April 4, 11, 18, 25. May 2, 9.

Location: 4 Leonard Circus, London EC2A 4DQ.

Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm

Booking by Eventbrite: see

Culture, Power and Politics evolved out of two parallel projects that started in 2015. Debra Benita Shaw was teaching a free course on cultural studies and cultural theory at squatted and co-operative spaces in London; Jeremy Gilbert was teaching a very similar course for an audience mostly of activists from various social movements and political organisations. 

Debbie and Jeremy are colleagues at the University of East London where they are members of the Centre for Research into Social Change and Justice.

In part one of Culture, Power, and Politics this year, Debbie and Katharina Uhe will host a series of seminars exploring the politics and practice of visual and digital cultures. Sessions are relaxed and interactive and oriented towards challenging received ideas about the world and how it is represented in our image saturated culture. Everyone is welcome and no prior expertise is expected or required. If you want to do some reading, we will be happy to recommend books and online sources for further discussion. Photobook Café is a community café, gallery and photobook library inspired by love of photobooks and traditional darkroom practice, serving excellent coffee, soft drinks, and craft beers.

Part two of Culture, Power & Politics, hosted by Jeremy, will be at Ridley Road Market Bar in May/June/July. 

Spring Programme

April 4

Debra Benita Shaw: Seeing is (Maybe?) Not Believing

Nineteenth century scientists believed that photography could represent the truth of the world but we now understand the power of images to represent damaging and divisive ideologies. Many photographers in the 20th and 21st centuries have made work that challenges the correspondence between ideas and visual experience.  How do we learn to see and what is the relationship between power and representation?

April 11

Debra Benita Shaw: Realism, Modernity and The Image

In this session, we will examine 20th century ideas that changed how art was made and understood. How did photography affect and influence artists working in other media? How did new ideas about the composition of social structures impact forms of representation? What is the relationship between science, art and reality?

April 18

Debra Benita Shaw: Art in Space

We only have to think about the positioning of statues and the way that they govern ideas about the use of space to appreciate that the positioning of art is never innocent but is bound up with power structures and social hierarchies. This session will examine the complex and contested relationship between art and architecture. Who are buildings for and how does art both challenge and confirm how space is used and understood?

April 25

Adam Wiseman: Photography, Power & Community

Continuing our discussion of art and architecture, Adam will discuss alternative methods for mapping history, architecture and the everyday, through critical and fragmented glimpses of place and performative processes. ‘Tlatelolco Disproved’ is both a choreographed urban landscape and a portrait of a community. Documented with photographs and video it was created with the collaboration of over 100 neighbours of the Chihuahua building of the Nonoalco Tlatelolco residential complex. Tlatelolco Desmentido examins the unpredictable nature of community and how it develops independent of political and commercial master plans.

May 2

Katharina Uhe in conversation with Open School East Associates Jamie Lee, Emily Stapleton Jefferies and Leon Claws: Coding, Sensing and Perception 

In this session the Open School East Associates Jamie, Emily and Leon will be in conversation with Katharina. Together they will reflect on their ‘Forest of Things’ exhibition that draws on their practical engagement with microcontrollers. This session will be asking the question of how technologies are enabling us to sense and respond to our environment. Can we program perception and if yes what are its wider implication on visual culture. 

May 9

Antigoni Memou: Images and Counter-Images of Migration

This session will examine the ways in which the ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe has been experienced and represented through or asimage(s) since 2015 and will consider the ways in which some of these images have been used to reinforce stereotypes of migrant people. Are there any counter-images, images that critique and resist such stereotyping, by challenging, critiquing, or subverting dominant visual narratives of migration? Can they function as active sites for the creation of a ‘disobedient gaze’ in pro-migration activism?


Debra Benita Shaw 

Dr. Debra Benita Shaw is a Reader in Cultural Theory in the Department of Architecture and Visual Arts. She teaches cultural theory to artists studying at postgraduate level and writes about urban cultures, the cultural effects of technological change and science fiction.

Antigoni Memou 

Dr Antigoni Memou is senior lecturer in Visual Theories at the Department of Architecture and Visual Arts and course leader of BA Photography at University of East London. 

Adam Wiseman 

Mexico City, 1970. As a graduate of the International Center of Photography in New York and a former printer at Magnum Photos, Adam Wiseman’s career has been marked by his relationship to photojournalism. His subjects are clearly interposed with an understanding of image as something between document and intersubjectivity.  

Wiseman is a Senior Lecturer at the University of East London. He divides his time between Mexico City and London giving lectures, workshops and developing new work.  

Katharina Uhe 

Katharina Uhe is a researcher in Advanced Practices at Goldsmiths University. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Digital Media at the University of Amsterdam. Katharina’s research interest focuses on the philosophies and imaginaries that are circulating around the materiality, place, role, and effect of the visual image in a digital landscape. Through an appropriation of different practices and the speculative, she allows her research to propose new forms of encounter with the visual image.