Lecture 4- Concepts and Approaches

From Truth to Interpretation: Political and Experimental Documentary Practice



The political and the aesthetic

Looking at experiments in the media and individuals that have experimented with the from and thought of it in context with politics

Louisiana channel (channel.louisianna.dk)

Edit interviews with artists when they have exhibitions

Example- Alfredo Jaar- images are not innocent

  • Images are important and fundamental
  • Images represent a concept of the world
  • Need to understand the world to act in the world
  • 1994-2000 project about the genocide- starts following the news to understand
  • Reactions to the media- sometimes irrational after reading certain things
  • ‘News week’ April- August 1994, series of covers in chronological order- story told in objective way next to cover- magazine was ignoring the tragedy, ends when they finally dedicate a cover to this issue
  • Jaar, analyses the media in different countries
  • ‘Example of what not to do if you are a real journalist’
  • Life magazine- looked at all the covers- ignores Africa, and when it doesn’t only animals
  • Time- animals, hunger, disease- 3 sections linked to Africa
  • Do not accept the term political artists, we are all artists in the work responding to a conception of the world therefore all political, if its not political and doesn’t engage in the world it is not art it is decoration (links well into my essay and image)

There is no truth to an image, only interpretation, based on subjectivity

Interpretation relies on a consideration of both art and politics

Cannot have art without politics

Art -> Aesthetics -> Beauty/taste?

Art is to be made as information (according to conceptualism), think how something politically and socially engages with the world

Information -> Ideas (conceptions) -> Politics (ideologies)

Alfredo Jaar

  • No jokes with text, subject is political, no humour but serious points about social media and politics
  • Works as an artist but interested in art and politics- pays homage to this

Interpretation is the only thing that matters- the interpretation and the profundity of the interpretation

Civil Imagination- a political ontology of photography

The political and the aesthetic

  • ‘This work of art is political’
  • ‘This work of art is not political’
  • ‘This work is aesthetic’ (subjective meaninglessness)- it may or may not be beautiful to you, not everyone will agree what are the politics of this relationship?
  • If more than one person thinks something is beautiful, taste becomes plural. If more than one person agrees on something it becomes political
  • The judgement of taste
  • ‘Is this beautiful’- 1913- up to Duchamp
  • ‘Is this art- Duchamp- conceptualism (1913-1960s)
  • Conceptualism- present day: ‘is it aesthetic or political? Is it both? How do they work together?’
  • Now what is the relationship between the aesthetic and the political

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

  • Started as documentary photography- magazine called ‘colours’
  • Pictures of famine and the military, things generally linked to documentary photography, normally with negative thoughts
  • Surveillance camera- more a 3d render than a photograph
  • Lost faith in photograph engagement- started to make work that was more referential about photography
  • Enter into a system of power
  • More interested in the outside world ‘the real world’ than they are in the art world
  • Making work that is about photography, rather than in photography
  • Stepping outside your own medium and thinking critically and politically about it

Richard Mosse

  • Made by the art magazine frieze- look up
  • The impossible image
  • The enclave, 2013
  • Work in the Congo- shot with infrared film
  • Discontinued film in 2009
  • Pink glow from healthy green plants- shows where people are hidden/unseen
  • Went to Congo as there was a hidden/unseen conflict there- metaphorically- bringing those 2 things together and seeing what happened
  • Living in a nightmare cycle of little wars, no one really understands them
  • Collaborative process
  • Intuitive art making process
  • Hard to communicate horrific traumas
  • Didn’t want to be photographer- very clear, but at the same time they were posing- they became very self conscious, vulnerable but sinister
  • Make people feel something, if you can make it beautiful they will sit up and listen- ethical problem in the viewers mind- confused and angry- got them to think about the act of conception
  • People were offended by the colour pink- not truthful
  • Potential of contemporary art, making things visible

3 different takes on documentary photography