With our Tutor Jon Levy (Foto8) our lectures are having a more journalistic approach to photography, than fine art or conceptual like we’ve had in the past. This means that this term we’re getting shown a tonne of photography that I love as it’s telling a narrative; an interesting and important one; in their own way, and because of it being so hard hitting, effecting everyone such as wars or conflicts in different countries, it’s key to see the work, to see how they’ve portrayed the scene to get out to the masses.
The idea of the day’s lecture was talking about subversive messages within photography – how photo journalism has become about undermining an idea, to convey a different thought that what’s the current idea. Many examples were given, but we emphasised our focus on two bodies of work that Jon has recently featured on Foto8 :
Gezi is Everywhere, By Colin Boyd Shafer [Seen Here]
Acts of Resilience, by Marta Tucci [Also, Seen Here]
These pieces of work showed to the audience a different perspective. Without these pieces within photography, we would only have the main new media to follow of these occurrences, and since the 80’s photography has lost it’s meaning as a witness, and now forms the idea that what the camera shows is the photographer’s world, the images now fit how the editor of work sees the world. conforming to their own image of the world. In the first piece, without the occasional contextual items to draw you back in, I would have easily believed that the photographer was in the middle of a festival. No-one appears to be in the typical conflict that we see with modern photography. These people are relaxed, occupying a park and even portraying a sense of calm community.
Our task was to hunt out a piece of work ourselves that showed the idea of being subversive, and many will tell you that journalism these days is in fact nearly all subversive. The idea that journalism is no longer a witness allowed editors to send a message to their audiences that subscribed to their politics or views, but now it allows photographers to have their say, their view on what is going on and have the tone that they want to portray. Ed Kashi’s work with the Nigeria Delta oil ‘exploit’. the imagery is designed to make you question the big oil company’s responsibilities and accountability. Every so often an oil company would pop up in the news because something has happened during extraction, either at see, or this new ‘Fracking’ process in the states [ Google it, look up on it, and just see the evidence, the signs and the observations others have made that show it is an incredibly bad idea ] It shows the company in a new light, where there isn’t much media coming out, where it typically gets over looked and Ed Kashi has taken this and held these companies accountable.
An oil spill from an abandoned Shell Petroleum Development Company well in Oloibiri, Niger Delta. Wellhead 14 was closed in 1977 but has been leaking for years, and in June of 2004 it finally released an oil spill of over 20,000 barrels of crude. Workers subcontracted by Shell Oil Company clean it up.
I’m putting these three together as they’re a blanket of ‘context’ for myself, they may not have obvious correlation in the subject of their work, but what they aim to do is similar, and with this being a module based on finding yourself as a professional and finding where you stand in the big scary world, well this is all relevant and part of the same idea.
Below is Sleeping Soldiers, by Tim Hetherington that followed US Soldiers in Afghanistan, but instead of conflict, instead of war – he photographed the moments between the moments; and put you right in the middle of it
Tim Hethington’s Sleeping Soldiers (Single Screen Edit)