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If today ‘everyone is a photographer’ one question rarely asked is why? What does it mean to be a photographer today? What might psychoanalysis have to say about this drive to take photographs? The fact that it is so easy to take photographs these days does not answer the question why we do it. Furthermore, is there any kind of continuity between this general impulse to take photographs and the uses of photography in art, for example?

While there has been much discussion of new technologies, which have enabled the avalanche of photography production and distribution, there has been little or no discussion of what effect this has on the persons involved. Beyond the obvious social representative functions of photography (advertising, news, travel) that demands its use, what account can psychoanalysis offer of the drive to take photographs? Can we say the scopic drive is singular or plural? If so, what are they?

Speakers include:

David Bate is a photographers and writer. His works include Zone (London: Artwords Press, 2012), Photography: Key Concepts (Berg, 2009), Photography and Surrealism: Sexuality, Colonialism and Social Dissent (IB Tauris 2004). He is currently Professor of Photography and course leader of the Photographic Studies MA programme at the University of Westminster.

Vincent Dachy has written quite a few things, most often on Mondays, and published: Tribulations of a Westerner in the Western World (Les Figues Press, 2006), Scraps from the bottom of my pocket (Artwords Press, 2013), as well as texts and photographs in various places. He acts as the spokesperson of VDcollective. He also practices and teaches Lacanian psychoanalysis in London.

Sharon Kivland is an artist and writer working in London and France. She is a keen reader, considering what is put at stake at the intersection of art, psychoanalysis, and politics. For some years she has been following Sigmund Freud on holiday. She is Reader in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University.

Darian Leader is a psychoanalyst working in London and a founder member of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research. He is President of The College of Psychoanalysts-UK and Visiting Professor at the School of Human and Life Sciences, Roehampton University. He is the author of several books including: Introducing Lacan; Why do women write more letters than they post?; Freud's Footnotes; Stealing the Mona Lisa: What Art Stops Us From Seeing; Why do people get ill? (with David Corfield) Penguin, 2007 and 'The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia and Depression’, Hamish Hamilton, 2008 and ‘What is Madness?' in 2011. His most recent book, Strictly Bipolar was published by Hamish Hamilton, 2013.

Patricia Townsend is an artist and a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. She recently guest edited a special edition of the online journal Free Associations on Psychoanalysis and Artistic Process. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Slade School of Art where she is studying the creative process of visual artists.

Maria Walsh is author of Art and Psychoanalysis (London: IB Tauris, 2013) and Theory Leader BA FA at Chelsea College of Art & Design, London.

Registration and programme

The £15 registration fee (£8.50 concession for students) covers: conference documentation, refreshments and administration costs.

Registration is now closed.

Download the draft schedule

The event is supported by CREAM, University of Westminster and Photographies journal.