Andrew Witt is an art historian living and working in Berlin. His research interests include the history of photography, contemporary art, and aesthetic theory. Andrew completed his PhD at University College London in 2017 and his MA at UCL in 2010. His dissertation addressed the reinvention of documentary photography in the 1970s, focusing on the work of Agnès Varda, Allan Sekula, Asco, John Divola, Martha Rosler, and the collaborative practice of Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel.
His current research project is entitled Exile Modernism and examines the ways in which the medium of photography was reimagined in the context of mass migration and displacement during the Second World War. From this research he is developing a publication on the photographic work of Ellen Auerbach, Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid, Germaine Krull, and Rose Mandel.
ICI Affiliated Project 2021-22
Exile Modernism examines the ways in which the medium of photography was reimagined and reinvented in the context of mass migration and displacement during the Second World War. The project questions how social and historical memory was pictured, transfigured, and obscured by photographs when placed under the pressures of immigration and exile. Andrew Witt’s research is built around a constellation of key photographers and filmmakers working across the Americas during the 1940s: Ellen Auerbach, Maya Deren, Ilse Bing, John Gutmann, Alexander Hammid, Germaine Krull, and Rose Mandel. His project is driven by the conviction that the visual practice of the 1940s was characterized by the production, circulation and distribution of a range of provisional images and works, whose fleeting and uncertain status provides a means to examine the cultural effects and historical significance of mass migration.
Taking into account the political, social, and economic uncertainty of life under exile, Andrew asks how these artists, photographers, and fellow travellers reimagined their lives and the lives of other émigrés in this newfound environment. He insists that the conditions of exile demand that one questions both the experimental work of these photographers, but also the wide range of images that do not directly reference identifiable events or themes, garnering clear representation or evidence for the historical narrative. Along this line of thinking, his research considers the marginal, the provisional, and the nonart in these archives as a means to question how these photographers rethought their lives under the constraints of immigration.