The images from this series initially (when looking at the ones in the coursebook and not further), do exactly what is described in the course unit text. Without knowing its context it feels strangely deserted, but in a particular way. However, when revealing its context, it almost feels disappointing. Al tension is gone.

 

(Unfortunately, I have to admit that in a previous life I was involved in setting up a comparable training facility in the Netherlands for security, police and fire brigades and visited many others in Europe. )

From the moment it’s clear, all is reduced to a commercial reportage for that training facility more than anything else. I can imagine other people have different experiences with this series. To me, it actually brings back rather good, exciting memories, in the early days of my career, but that’s not what this exercise is about.

Sarah Pickering is a British visual artist who works with photography and whose work deals with themes of falsity and deception.(Sarahpickering.co.uk, 2015)

Her intention is to play openly with falsity and deception, one could argue if these are her intention and modus operandi, is it documentary? Is the truth about the unreal a specific truth again? Is it a “species of realism” or just an imitation, a mislead, a visual trick?

The pictures Pickering makes of them are alluring …capturing a fleeting moment that is mysterious and beautiful, and odd in its lack of context.(Mocp.org, 2010) is indeed true, but after the knowledge of context, I cannot share the excitement described in the coursebook and I doubt I would if I was not this familiar with comparable scenes. Where the work of Paul Seawright gains engagement by knowing the context, here my engagement is completely gone, knowing the context, the magician unmasked feeling. In my case, the trick did not really work from the beginning. And from there on, to be honest, what is left? Is it reporting, journalism, art? A little bit of everything, does not make it great. Maybe the authenticity of the context is of greater importance for the longevity of the photographic experience and perception. The importance of context in its most profound form, hence the image is on the cover page of the coursebook: Context and Narrative.

 

Grabbing the next page into this exercise seems to make more sense to me. Alessandra Sanguinetti’s(Magnum Photos, 2016) The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and The Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams is all about engagement, tension, mystery, sadness, dreams, joy, life. The photographs and context influx perfectly, when context becomes physical, the photograph becomes life. The work holds up perfectly without the context and without the words, it deepens and intensifies even with its narrative. Brilliant art, brilliant documentary. Dreams become touchable without getting soft and sentimental.  Although some photographs are tableau, it never gets fake, false, misleading. The difference in intention becomes clear. Sanguittini does not want to mislead, she tries to depict dreams as close at it gets. Perhaps just as unrealistic as photographing a fake village, but so much more intense and sincere, dreams with eyes wide open.

 

Bibliography

Magnum Photos. (2016a). The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and The Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams • Alessandra Sanguinetti • Magnum Photos. [online] Available at: https://www.magnumphotos.com/arts-culture/alessandra-sanguinetti-the-adventures-of-guille-and-belinda-and-the-enigmatic-meaning-of-their-dreams/ [Accessed 6 Jun. 2020].

Magnum Photos. (2016b). The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and The Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams • Alessandra Sanguinetti • Magnum Photos. [online] Available at: https://www.magnumphotos.com/arts-culture/alessandra-sanguinetti-the-adventures-of-guille-and-belinda-and-the-enigmatic-meaning-of-their-dreams/ [Accessed 6 Jun. 2020].

Mocp.org. (2010). Sarah Pickering: Incident Control | Museum of Contemporary Photography. [online] Available at: https://www.mocp.org/exhibitions/2010/04/sarah_pickering.php [Accessed 6 Jun. 2020].

Pickering, S. (2020). Public Order – Sarah Pickering. [online] Sarahpickering.co.uk. Available at: https://www.sarahpickering.co.uk/works/public-order/ [Accessed 6 Jun. 2020].

Sarahpickering.co.uk. (2015). About – Sarah Pickering. [online] Available at: https://www.sarahpickering.co.uk/bio/ [Accessed 6 Jun. 2020].