© Michael Grieve, from the series „The Foriegner (sic)“

Workshop with Michael Grieve
The Empty Image

3 – 11 June 2017, 10:00-17:00

“Rilke wrote: ‚These trees are magnificent, but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them, as though with their growth it too increased.” Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

There is something in emptiness, but what it is cannot be clearly defined. This is a paradox, but an acceptable one. The Empty Image workshop is designed to push participants to produce a series of still, quiet and dissonant photographs that reveal an ominous space in reality, that convey more a psychological than a descriptive space. From the photographs of Paris by Atget in the 19th century, to William Eggleston, Michael Schmidt, Adam Broomberg/Oliver Chanarin, Margot Wallard and Bill Viola‘s video art, we come to understand that what is absent defines what is there in an image. The emphasis of this workshop is to think outside of the box and explore the uncertainty of an uncanny (unheimlich) relationship to reality that is defined as something strangely familiar to us.

The workshop is eight intensive days and combined with a series of lectures and group discussions, the principle aim is that participants will produce a coherent body of work. Combined with theoretical awareness, visual strategies will be a key issue to realise concepts. During the process of this workshop participants will develop further their ability to produce work with a theoretical and aesthetic continuity with particular attention to narrative, editing and sequencing.

Michael Grieve is a British photographer, writer, and educator currently based in Berlin. After completing a BA and MA at University of Westminster he became a reportage and portrait photographer for publications worldwide and represented by Agence VU. For five years he was the deputy editor of 1000 Words contemporary photography magazine and is a regular writer and photographer for the British Journal of Photography. He was a senior lecturer of photography at Nottingham Trent University, a lecturer at Akademia Fotografii in Warsaw and a lecturer at Berliner Technische Kunstschule teaching documentary, portrait and the history of photography. He is the founder and director of Berlin Foto Kiez. In 2017, his photobook, The Foriegner (sic), will be published.

© Michael Grieve, from the series „The Foriegner (sic)“


The priority of this 8-day workshop is to make-work. Photographic artistic practice and theoretical understanding can only be learned experientially. The aim of the workshop is that on the final day, participants will have produced the beginning of a strong project with which they could continue into their general studies. This is an opportunity to begin a fresh project or to extend into an existing/ relevant project.

Day One (3 June)
An introduction to each other. An introductory lecture on the notion of ‘emptiness’, via examples from other artists, photographers, film-makers, poets, musicians, theorists and writers. A ‘small assignment 1’ will be set, to be completed for the next day.

Day Two (4 June)
Critical assessment and discussion of ‘small assignment 1’, and a possible vehicle to discuss potential main project ideas (to be completed on day 8). A lecture on the French philosophers, Georges Bataille, Albert Camus and Jean Paul-Sartre. Another small assignment 2 will be set, to be completed the next day.

Day Three (5 June)
Critical assessment and discussion of ‘small assignment 2’, with more detailed discussions about main project ideas. Lecture on psycholanalytical theory of the ‘uncanny’. Screening and discussion of the film, Persona by Ingmar Bergman.

Day Four (6 June)
Group discussion in the morning, and individual tutorials in the afternoon concerning main project, with particular emphasis on visual strategies and technique. Participants will be expected to start shooting the main project during the break and continue until day 8.

BREAK (7 June)

Day Five (8 June)
Lecture on Japanese photographer/artist Daisuke Yokota and ‘process photography’. Lecture on the ‘Realist Surrealists’ of 1920’s and 30’s. Group critique of work in progress for main project.

Day Six (9 June)
All day individual tutorials.

Day Seven (10 June)
Group critique on work in progress. Group and individual tutorials on editing, narrative and sequencing.

Day Eight (11 June)
Preperation for final presentation of main project in morning. Final presentation and critique of main project in afternoon.

Suggested reading list prior to workshop:Camera Lucida, Roland BarthesThe Uncanny, Sigmund FreudThe Poetics of Space, Gaston BachelardHandful of Dust, David Campany

Costs: 840 €