The PhotoPerformer
: The Performance of Photography as an Act of Precarious Interdependency

  • Manuel Vason

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This PhD by Publication explores Manuel Vason’s art practice at the intersections of photography and performance culminating in his development of the PhotoPerformer. Vason formulates the interdependency between the two art forms as a reflexive collaboration with the Other and as an evolving methodology which leads to a collaborative transformation of photography through performance. Vason questions the fixity of photography – symbolized by ‘the frame’ – as an ideological dispositive of power and control that distances subject and object and enforces a unique, absolute and finished perspective.

Considering photography in relationship to performance allows him to comprehend the medium through theories of differentiation. He conceives the medium not as a practice of reproduction that treats images as copies of reality but rather as a process of alteration that takes place when the live image is transformed into a photographic image. Photography constantly produces new documentation of performance intending to give a stable identity to ephemeral actions. Yet, Vason’s performative practice questions the authority of those documents. While photography offers to performance a decisive time through which to record and identify the flux of its actions, performance encourages a focus on the photographic action to overcome the fixity of the photograph. Vason posits a methodological approach that allows both art forms to be in constant dialogue and confrontation, transforming their limitations into potentiality for creative expansion. In particular, Vason examines how collaboration between photographer and performer and between the two media can allow photography to become more processual, discursive and ethical.

Finally, what this thesis reveals is that rethinking and practicing photography through the lens of performance galvanizes a deeper sense of responsibility toward others and exposes the photographer and his actions which normally are overlooked. Such interdependency of photography and performance is propelled and characterized by precariousness, a human condition that has been revisited in its positive connotation and that Vason identifies as a creative dependency on each other and a force of survival and resistance against the constraints of neoliberal individualism.
Date of AwardJun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
Supervisor Dr J Wainwright (Supervisor) & Emmanuelle Waeckerlé (Supervisor)


  • Collaboration
  • Interdependency
  • Otherness
  • Precariousness

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