Project 4 – Exercise

Sarah Pickering – Public Order


Look at some more images from this series on the artist’s website.

• How do Pickering’s images make you feel?

• Is Public Order an effective use of documentary or is it misleading?
Make some notes in your learning log.

resources used to complete this exercise: [accessed 18.11.2018] [accessed 18/11/2018

Sarah Pickering, Denton Underground Station, 2003
google search of Sarah Pickering's images

how do these images make me feel?:

Well I think they are a bit unsettling. At first glance they looked ‘not quite right’ but as I looked at the them it is obvious that they are fake.  Then I became interested in looking at the marks on the walls and wondering what scenario was being played out in the exercises being played out there

The images work well together and you get a real sense of the story, but individually I don’t think they say much.  

Is Public Order an effective use of documentary or is it misleading?:

The Tate website describes ‘Documentary Photography as: 

“Documentary photography is a style of photography that provides a straightforward and accurate representation of people, places, objects and events, and is often used in reportage”

At first I wasn’t sure this is documentary photography, but I suppose that if you take the images as their reality and not the set they are portraying then it could be.  with no action actually taking place, you are left to imagine what might happen here and therefore, I think it’s a bit misleading

Paul Seawright – Sectarian Murder

Research point

Look online at Paul Seawright’s work, Sectarian Murders:

  • How does this work challenge the boundaries between documentary and art? Listen to Paul Seawright talk about his work at: [accessed24/02/14]
  • What is the core of his argument? Do you agree with him?
  • If we define a piece of documentary photography as art, does this change its meaning?

Video accessed 27.10.2018

Seawright describes himself as a  photographic artist and is talking about his images as art rather than journalistic.  He describes a balance between it being too explicit and leaving some room for the viewer to access the meaning.  

He is wanting his viewer to take time to look at the images and learn more from them and their context in taking that time.  He compares this to journalisic images which he says need to give up their explicit meaning quickly, so that the viewer can keep turning the page.  

In both Seawright’s sets of Sectarian Murders (Above) and Hidden (below), he hints at previous aggression and conflict, by showing what is left in the places where it happened.  That coupled with the factual text under the images allows the view to look around his images as he describes in the video.

All of images in Sectarian Murders are complex and you see different things each time you look.  However, they are much more than just a documentary images, there is an artistic quality to the composition.  It appears that he has tried to give a feel of area and from a person’s point of view.

I think I do agree that presenting documentary photography as art it does change the meaning.  Seawright’s images definitely take on the ‘aftermath’ aproach showing us the place where something HAS happened.  The viewer has to react to the context and or narrative that goes alongside the image.  It makes you look for the meaning in the photo

Had these images just been shown in the media, they would have been looked over quickly.  I kind or relate it to the annual poppy festival, it’s a way reconnecting people with things that have happened so that they don’t happen again. 

Palestinian Protester

Captured on October 22 by Mustafa Hassouna of Turkey's Anadolu Agency (Getty Images)

This image just came up in my facebook feed: it was taken just a few days ago by a photojournalist in Gaza, Palestine.  I think this demonstrates beautifully the distinction between photojournalism and art.

The image went viral on social media, such as twitter because of is likeness to a famous painting by Delacroix’s, Liberty Leading the People.

Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People

The first article I read about this focused more on the asethics of the image and likeness to the artwork than the real story and context in which this image was taken and that shocked me!

But having researched more, it seems that the argument about art versus reality is allowing other writers to push forward the realities of this very real modern day struggle.

Another article by the Independent argues that we should not be romanticising about this and gives a more balanced report.

The Aljazeera News told how Laleh Khalili, a SOAS University professor person, who posted the image on twitter also linked it to Delcroix’s painting generating agreement from other users and ‘creating the narrative’.

google search for Palestinian Protesters, showing less iconic images, which over more context and reality

Like Dorothea Lange’s migrant mother, the man in the image, Aed Abu Amro, may not personally benefit from this image, but he may indirectly bring the situation to a wider audience.

As it was reported that this idea of ‘liberty’ has been floated before in Gaza, one one wonders if like Lange, the photographer was sent out with list of images to get.  After all it is quite clear from the google search that many people carry flags whilst they are protesting!