Project: Documentary, performance and fictions

The link for the Diane Smyth article has changed: and can now be found on Tom Hunter’s website.

Exercise: Summary of thoughts on Tom Hunter’s work

When I first looked at the website I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of his work. He is certainly a prolific artist. Thinking about the article by Diane Smyth, Think Global Act Local, I can understand why Hunter agrees with the first of Wombell’s comments and I can see the value in photographing your immediate surroundings with all of  the depth of knowledge and experience that it can bring to your work. On Wombell’s second point, I think that it is too broad a subject to boil down into an argument about digital versus analogue photography. I do agree with Hunter that analogue photography is right if you want to make the quality of image that he excels in. I looked at all of the galleries on his website. Some particularly stood out. His “Unheralded Stories” in which tableaux of period costumed individuals are juxtaposed in museum recreations from a different time, was surreal. Axis Mundi, photographs of standing megaliths in the South of England also resonated with me. An interesting point that he made was that he thought that Art Photography (as opposed to photojournalism) gives you more control over how your work is seen. I listened twice to the podcast in which he explained how he was inspired by the work of Vermeer, how he was a painter of the people and social realism. He also explained the importance of colour and light in his work. Tom Hunter produces carefully crafted, beautiful images which also have a social narrative. He is undoubtedly a positive influence on a number of photographers today.

Exercise: Reflection on the work of Hasan and Husain Essop

This is an interesting video. I had to watch it a few times to actually realise that the twins were the only figures in these very complex performances. I was familiar with the idea that Muslims to not incorporate images of “life” into their homes or architecture.  What is refreshing about this work is that these young men are pushing the against the traditions of Islam in order to preserve it.

Exercise: Reflect on the Documentary value of Jeff Wall’s work

I got very little from the Pluk magazine article so I referenced many of my books that contained opinions and ideas about Wall’s work. Initially, I was a little sceptical that work of that complexity would lose something of its value as a document in its execution. I suppose I am still hanging on to the idea that the immediacy of the photojournalistic image, shot as the action happens, has more veracity. But the more I read and learn about restaged events and documentary “fictions” , I am coming to realise the value of “different” truths. Commentary on social issues by means of presenting an interpretation by the artist will at least provoke a discussion.

Fictional Documents

I have discussed the work of Joan Fontcuberta in a review of the recent study visit to “Stranger than Fiction”


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