Theme - conflict photography
01/09/14 18:21 Filed in: General | Visual Enquiry
I’ve not paid my fees yet, and the course is yet to start, but I thought that I would take the time to lay out some general thoughts for the overarching theme for my MA work. This might seem odd, but current events are playing on my mind a little and so it felt like the right thing to do.
The theme will be conflict photography. It’s a fairly wide ranging subject, and I will say right now that I have absolutely no intentions of visiting any of the current theatres of conflict, in the Ukraine or Gaza for example. Instead I will be intending to look much closer to home with notions of how it has affected the landscape here in the UK for what I envisage being the major part of the body of work. I also intend to look at other aspects of conflict photography and art, both in terms of its history from the likes of Fenton, through to recent Deutsche Börse prizewinners such as Luc Delahaye and Richard Mosse, taking in others along the way that touch on the subject (Jon Tonks’ Empire and Melanie Friend’s The Home Front, for example). There’s more too, from conflict photographers such as Tim Page and Don McCullin, the latter of whom especially seems to have his photography accepted more and more within an art context, rather than a purely reportage one as it had been originally intended. I’ll leave it at that for a list of subjects for now - it will grow, both organically and specifically as I piece together pieces of this particular jigsaw.
I’m also looking at a number of related but dissimilar projects to keep me moving throughout the three years duration of the MA, and will be looking at bringing Some Unholy War onboard (a project I have been kicking around since I finished the BA), exploring the theory behind what I’m trying to work out in my head and through the lens and making the work grow into something more meaningful. Perhaps with a more political kick, perhaps playing with how it might interact with other aspects of work, be it work that has been appropriated in some way, be it wartime quotes, song lyrics again, or whatever. I do feel that it needs something more than just the images at the moment, some of which are included below (and will no doubt be featured in other blog posts along the way).
Battle for Haditha:
Full Metal Jacket:
This body of work though has gotten me in something of a muddle in my head at the moment. I watch films, which generally glorify the fantasy of conflict in some way or another, and take these strange motion blurred photographs which, in some ways reinforce that fantasy. However, in the background I am very aware of the footage coming out of places like Gaza, and the awful things happening there. It would be hard not to. Seeing what is happening is also playing somewhat on my professional choices outside of the art world. I’m an engineer working in the defence industry, what does this all mean to me? How are my politics changing? Are my politics changing, and if so, will it come out in the body of work I will produce? And does the passage of time affect how I see each conflict? After working with Battle for Haditha, based on events that took place during the Gulf War, my next mini-project was with Centurion and the battles in the north of England between the Romans and Picts. Perhaps that is an extreme, but what of differences to how I react to the Gulf War and the Vietnam War, or WWII, both of which are “before my time” (I know, strictly speaking, Vietnam wasn’t, but I was 5 when the Americans withdrew and do not have personal, contemporary memories of the dispute - everything has come later through history books and cinema).
So, that’s it in a somewhat untidy nutshell - what I’m currently thinking. Of course, once the MA actually starts and things begin to happen, it might all change. I’m sort of used to that happening. But yeah, this is my stake in the ground that I will currently be measuring myself from.
Credit information for Battle for Haditha, Full Metal Jacket and Centurion can be found here. (images used for educational purposes)