Exercise: BPB 2008

Brief

Read the two essays in the BPB 2008 programme and look at the work the curator selected for the exhibition.

Write a short press release of around 250 words in your learning log – in your own words.

Response

“Memory of Fire: The War of Images & The Images of War” at the 2008 Brighton Photo Biennial

The third Brighton Photo Biennial, curated by writer and critic Julian Stallabrass, brings together historical, contemporary and commissioned works from over 35 photographers, all looking at aspects of how war has been – and is currently being – depicted photographically.

Taking the Iraq War as its contemporary reference point, the exhibition looks at how the use of photographic imagery has changed, paradoxically becoming more narrow and controlled while the rest of the world gets more open and connected. It contrasts the highly sanitised versions from embedded photographers with the broader and more neutral chronicling of the untethered ‘unilaterals’ working in war zones.

The works on display also take a critical look at the political control over visual imagery, and the extent to which warring states use still and moving images not only to justify wars to their own peoples, but as audiovisual shows of immense power to their enemies – ‘shock and awe’ as weapons of war.

Photographers such as Simon Norfolk, Paul Seawright, Joel Meyerowitz and Sophie Ristelhueber circumnavigate the difficulties of in situ war photography by choosing to instead document the aftermath of war. As Sarah James puts it in her essay to accompany the exhibition, “the technological nature of today’s warfare has resulted in a war that is nearly impossible to document as it happens.”

The static, unpopulated scenes of deserted war zones serve a different purpose to traditional conflict photography; their resemblance to landscapes invites contemplation more than compassion or horror.

“Memory of Fire: The War of Images & The Images of War” is at the 2008 Brighton Photo Biennial at various venues from 3rd October to 11th November 2008

Sources

BPB 2008 programme https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/key-resources/res-files/bpb2008.pdf (accessed 03/10/2016)

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