Mishka Henner

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Mishka Henner
Mishka Henner.jpg
Henner in 2013
Born (1976-06-08) 8 June 1976 (age 40)
Brussels, Belgium
Nationality British
Known for Conceptual art, appropriation art, photography
Awards Kleine Hans Award 2011, ICP Infinity Award for Art 2013

Mishka Henner (1976) is a Belgian artist living and working in Manchester, England. His work has featured in several surveys of contemporary artists working with photography in the internet age. He has been described by some as a modern-day Duchamp[1] for his appropriation of image-rich technologies including Google Earth, Google Street View, and YouTube, and for his adoption of print-on-demand as a means to bypass traditional publishing models.


Henner studied Sociology at Loughborough University (1994–1997) and at Goldsmiths College (1997–1998). On leaving Goldsmiths, he remained in London for a number of years and in 2003 visited "Cruel and Tender" at Tate Modern, a survey of documentary photography, which he described as life-changing.[2]

Between 2004 and 2010, he worked with long-time collaborator Liz Lock, a photographer from Toronto, Canada, on documentary projects in and around London and the North West of England and on portrait and feature commissions for a number of British broadsheets including The Independent and Financial Times.[2] In 2008, Lock and Henner joined Panos Pictures (part of the Panos Institute) becoming Profile photographers for the agency in 2010.[3] They left the agency in the summer of 2012.

In January 2010, Henner self-published his first print-on-demand book Winning Mentality and with it joined the ABC Artists' Books Cooperative. At the London Art Book Fair at the Whitechapel Gallery in November that year, the Tate acquired a copy of Winning Mentality for their Library of Artists' Books.[4] This was the first of six major print-on-demand works Henner produced in little over a year and was followed by Photography Is, Collected Portraits, Fifty-One US Military Outposts, Dutch Landscapes, and No Man's Land. For these six book works, Henner was awarded the Kleine Hans award in July 2011 at a ceremony at Les Rencontres d'Arles. In the jury report, Hans Aarsman, Hans Eijkelboom, Hans van de Meer, Hans Wolf and Hans Samson described Henner's work in the following manner:

A new approach to photography is seeing the light - photographers without cameras. The need to press the shutter is replaced by a direct interest in images - not necessarily in making images. These photographers make books with photographs they find and sometimes they mix them with photographs they take. In this rising flock Mishka Henner is the trailblazer.[5]

Of these six books, all but Winning Mentality would appear at the From Here On group show at Les Rencontres d'Arles in 2011 and FoMu, Antwerp in 2012 curated by Martin Parr, Joachim Schmid, Joan Fontcuberta, Erik Kessels, and Clément Chéroux.[6] The exhibition, representing a new age of photography characterized by artists sourcing materials from the internet, included three installations by Henner: "Bliss," "Dutch Landscapes," and "Photography Is."

In 2011, No Man's Land featured in Photo-Eye's books of the year list, along with Astronomical, Henner's scale model of the solar system.[7] No Man's Land also received an honorable mention in the Photography Book Now awards.[8] In 2012, Henner published No Man's Land II, a second volume.

Henner created controversy in early 2012 with the publication of Less Américains. In this self-published work, the artist erased much of the content of 83 photographs from Robert Frank's celebrated photobook, The Americans, leaving only occasional remnants of the historic images. In an interview with the New York Times, he describes the erasure of Frank's photobook as an homage to Robert Rauschenberg who similarly created controversy in 1953 with his work Erased de Kooning Drawing.[9] Henner discusses the work in terms of blurring the boundaries of authorship and ownership:

I don’t know if anyone has examined Frank’s images as much as I did ... one of the things that really struck me was playing with shape and texture almost in a way that a painter works. I’m making very active choices about what kind of shape and textures I want to have ... I started to place my images next to Frank’s and sure enough there were things that you simply wouldn’t have notice before. It suddenly takes on a whole new significance.

The Americans is one of documentary photography's most revered works and Henner's book resulted in mixed reviews. The Guardian's Sean O'Hagan described it as "either inspired or provocative-to-the-point-of-insulting to the original"[10] whilst Colin Pantall, writing in the British Journal of Photography, described it as "a Churchillian proclamation that far from being over, photography has barely begun."[11] A review by Jeffrey Ladd in Time[12] ended by evaluating the work in relation to Jack Kerouac's own words written in the 1958 introduction which accompanied the first US edition of Frank's book:

What poem this is, what poems can be written about this book of pictures some day by some young new writer high by candlelight bending over them describing every grey mysterious detail.


  • Winning Mentality (2010)
  • Photography Is (2010)
  • Fifty-One US Military Outposts (2010)
  • Dutch Landscapes (2011)
  • Astronomical (2011)
  • No Man's Land (2011)
  • No Man's Land II (2012)
  • Pumped (2012)
  • Richtered (2012)
  • Less Américains (2012, 2013)


Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • No Man’s Land, HotShoe Gallery, London, 2011
  • From Here On, Rencontres d'Arles, France, 2011
  • Dark Matter, Mews Project Space, London, 2011
  • ABC Artists’ Books Cooperative, Printed Matter, New York, 2011
  • Collateral Damage group exhibition, Look 11, Liverpool and International Festival of Journalism, Perugia, 2011. Curated by Paul Lowe and Harry Hardie. Included photographs from 51 US Bases as well as images by Lisa Barnard, Simon Norfolk, Tim Hetherington, Zijah Gafic, Paul Lowe, Edmund Clark, Ashley Gilbertson, Brett Van Ort, Adam Broomberg and Olivier Chanarin.[15]
  • Political Absurd, Art & Culture Laboratory, Krk, Croatia, 2011
  • Follow-Ed (after Hokusai), P74 Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia & Arnolfini, Bristol, 2011
  • Photographers, Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival, 2012
  • The Big Picture, Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria, 2012
  • Work, Festival Internazionale di Roma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome, Italy, 2012
  • Dutch Landscapes, Journées photographiques de Bienne, Switzerland, 2012
  • David Horvitz's Bouquet, Border Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico, 2012. Organised by David Horvitz. Includes Anjum Asharia and Marisa Jahn, BFFA3AE, Claudia Sola, David Horvitz, Hans Aarsman, Jon Rafman, Kristina Lee Podesva, Marysia Lewandowska, Michael Mandiberg, Mishka Henner, Natalie Häusler and Vlatka Horvat.[16][17]
  • Live Stream, MediaCityUK, UK, 2012
  • Appropriation: Questioning the Image, Fotogalerie Wien, Austria, 2012
  • No Man’s Land, Oregon Center for Photographic Arts, USA, 2012
  • From Here On, FotoMuseum Antwerp, Belgium, 2012
  • Let Us Keep Our Own Noon, Galerie West, Hague, Netherlands, 2012
  • Drone: The Automated Image, Darling Foundry, Montreal, Canada, 2013
  • Plotting from Above, McCord Museum, Montreal Canada, 2013
  • Precious Commodities, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, UK, 2013
  • Views From Above, Centre Pompidou-Metz, France, 2013
  • A Different Kind of Order, International Center of Photography, New York, 2013
  • Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013, The Photographers' Gallery, London, 2013


Henner's work is held in the following public collections:


  1. ^ Clary, Christopher. "Mishka Henner". Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Major, EJ. "Letting the JPEGs Degrade". Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "Panos Profile photographers". Panos Pictures. Retrieved 29 March 2013. Mishka Henner and Liz Lock are photographers based in Manchester, UK. 
  4. ^ a b "Winning Mentality (catalogue entry)". Tate Library. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "Kleine Hans 2011 Award Jury Report" (PDF). 
  6. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (13 July 2011). "Why you are the future of photography". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Best Books of 2011". 
  8. ^ "Photography Book Now 2011". 
  9. ^ Baker, Stacey (28 February 2012). "Erasing ‘The Americans’". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (23 May 2012). "Mishka Henner's erased images: art or insult?". The Guardian (London). 
  11. ^ "Less is More: Mishka Henner's take on Robert Frank's classic". Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ Jeffrey Ladd, "Retouching a classic: 'Less Américains'", Time, 22 March 2012.
  13. ^ Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. Accessed 15 March 2013
  14. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (26 November 2012). "Deutsche Börse 2013 – a shortlist that's short of photographers". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "Collateral Damage", University of the Arts London. Accessed 21 December 2014.
  16. ^ "a bouquet for spring? or a bouquet from spring?", David Horvitz. Accessed 1 September 2014.
  17. ^ "David Horvitz y Juliana Mundim – A room for two and many more", Centro Cultural Border (Mexico City). Accessed 1 September 2014.

External links[edit]