Sheehan contributes to book, “The Colors of Photography”
Tanya Sheehan, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Art, has contributed an essay to the book The Colors of Photography (De Gruyter, 2020), edited by University of Zurich professor Bettina Gockel. Sheehan’s essay, “Color Matters: Rethinking Photography and Race,” examines the assumptions about and expressions of racialized power that she argues are built into the material and technological foundations of photography. Since the 19th century, photographers around the world have imagined nonwhite bodies as posing technical difficulties, particularly when it comes to lighting. Sheehan demonstrates the persistence of this idea, with recent examples from popular culture, while turning to international contemporary art to critique the sociopolitical roots of photography’s race problem. Several essays in The Colors of Photography, including Sheehan’s, originated as invited papers at an international conference in Zurich, Switzerland, organized by Gockel in October 2015.