African Photography

Images of Africa by Western photographers have been plagued by photographs of starving children, war, wildlife photography, tourist landscapes and portraits of African tribes exoticizing the “dark continent.” But Africa for the past few years has been immersed in digital technology and culture and the digital age in Africa can now be witnessed through art and photography.

Key Questions

Is there an ‘African’ style?? subject matter, perspectives, colours, line

or just individual photographers who happen to come from Africa?

Hotshots: Africa’s most exciting new photographers 

Jepchumba 2013 Jepchumba, originally from Kenya, is founder and creative director of African Digital Art, which is dedicated to African digital media and art. 

Zanele Muholi, South Africa: “visual activist.” Her photography often takes on subjects that are taboo and unspoken in parts of Africa and Muholi is renowned of her groundbreaking portraits of the lives of gay women in South Africa.

Hélène Amouzou, Togo: series of self portraits taken in the attic of her home.

Nii Obodai, Ghana:  “Who Knows Tomorrow?”  book offers his take on the contemporary visual representation of Ghana.

Mutua Matheka, Kenya: one of the founders of Kenya 365, a 365-day project inviting Instagramers to take photos of Kenya, chronicling the changing Kenyan landscape and how economic and technology growth has influenced the country.

Lakin Ogunbanwo, Nigeria: visually provocative imagery of fashion culture in Nigeria.

Dillon Marsh, South Africa: travel throughout Southern Africa where he documents various places, experimenting with the strange uniqueness of familiar neighborhoods and landscapes.

Emeka Okereke, Nigeria: founder of Invisible Borders, a road trip project that invites artists and photographers to go on a journey to explore new images of the continent throughout West Africa.

Michael Tsegaye, Ethiopia: Traversing through remote parts of Ethiopia, Tsegaye’s portfolio displays wide ranging social issues that affect the people in the country. Tsegaye has done many fantastic photo series, including “Working Girls,” a photo essay on the lives of sex workers in Addis, as well as “Future Memories” — a series that chronicles the urbanization of various neighborhoods in Addis Ababa.

 Encounters PICHA Biennale 

2010: selected by Simon Njami: Adama Bamba (Mali), Dimitri Fagbohoun (Togo), Jellel Gasteli (Tunisia), Kiluanji Kia Henda (Angola), Kiripi Katembo Siku (D.R.Congo), Mouna Karray (Tunisia), Pierrot Men (Madagascar), Zineb Sedira (Algeria), Zwelethu Mthethwa (South Africa) in photography; Bili Bidjocka (Cameroon), Jimmy Ogonga (Kenya), Kader Attia (Algeria), Moataz Nasr (Egypt), Myriam Muhindou (Gabon) in video art.

 Bamako African Photography Encounters (French: Rencontres africaines de la photographie) is a biennial exhibition in Bamako, Mali since 1994. website links to photographers do not work. But under each biennial you can find lists of prize-winners.

The 6th annual African Photography Encounters  2005, with the theme of “Another World.” The prizes awarded were:

The jury also honored Ranjith Kally (South Africa) for his life’s work.

Assessment

There is here a clear difference between photographers who are really engaged – with privileged and deep communication with their subject and environment, They are able to get very raw and moving images.

And others who are obviously from a more sheltered social background and tend to follow Western voyeurism and exoticism – but often less technically adept.

Images of Africa by Western photographers have been plagued by photographs of starving children, war, wildlife photography, tourist landscapes and portraits of African tribes exoticizing the “dark continent.” But Africa for the past few years has been immersed in digital technology and culture and the digital age in Africa can now be witnessed through art and photography.

Landscape and Identity

The concept of ‘identity’ is central to most landscape photography – the cultural, historical, ecological and industrial factors shaping identities of people and places and the ways in which the two interact. ‘Identity’ is however not fixed. Individuals and groups of people are continually trying to reconcile multiple and changing identities as a means of making sense of their place in the world. Identities are constantly manipulated and contested by others in political processes. In the same way, meanings of ‘landscape’ and symbolic associations of places are also multi-layered, changing and often manipulated in attempts to shape power relationships between people and groups of people and peoples’ control over and use of ‘nature’ and other resources.

In deciding how to portray particular landscape/s key considerations are:

  • Who created, owns, uses and changes this landscape? How do these people relate to each other?
  • How is this ‘landscape’ distinguished from other similar places (who decides what is and what is not similar? by what criteria? why are those criteria important?)?
  • How do (different) users and inhabitants of a place feel towards (different aspects of) the landscape (pride, indifference, disrespect, fear of loss)?
  • What attitudes do (which) outsiders have towards it?

Underlying all these considerations must also be a consideration of:

  • How are these feelings, identities and relationships manipulated, why and by whom? (See Part 3 landscape as political text)
  • Self-awareness on the part of the photographer of their own identity/ies and assumptions and power/desire (or lack of it) to manipulate and change things.

See posts:

Dana Lixenberg’s:  Last Days of Shishmaref
Jacob Aue Sobol’s work Sabine (2004)

‘British-ness’, collective identities and the countryside

“The concept of the countryside is a significant element of the British identity. All countries have rural areas, but Britain’s is one of its ‘unique selling points’.” (Alexander p119)

 4.2: The British landscape during World War II

Attitudes towards social issues like renewable energy or housing policy are often polarised by ‘Not in My Back Yard’ ‘visual impact’ on the land according to rather idealised ‘picturesque’ notions of what the landscape used to/should look like.

Personal identities and multiculturalism

British photographers have questioned established and stereotyped images of the British landscape and its heritage. Photographers like Godwin and Darwell manipulate aesthetics of the image, beauty in texture, pattern and atmosphere to keep the viewer’s attention – then guide it to pose more challenging and shocking questions about the landscape and peoples’ relationship to it. The effort of extracting meaning in this way also makes the images more memorable. See posts:

  • Immigration and race:  Ingrid Pollard and Simon Roberts.
  • Access to the countryside:  Fay Godwin
  • Environmental pollution and degradation: John Darwell Dark Days (2001 Foot and Mouth Outbreak).
  • Relationship with animals: Clive Landen: sharp documentary style and brutal but images of death in Abyss (2001 Foot and Mouth Outbreak) and Familiar British Wildlife (series on roadkills).

4.3 A subjective voice

Marcus Bleasdale

Marcus Bleasdale (born 1968) is a photojournalist, born in the UK to an Irish family. He spent over eight years covering the brutal conflict within the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and has worked in many other places. Much of his work is linked to fundraising for aid and human rights agencies and there is often a link to ways t donate. His videos are extremely powerful and also discuss what people can do to change the situations the are seeing.

His images are in both black and white and colour and he also does video. They get their power because he is well informed about what he is shooting and knows why he wants hat shot and also has access to people and situations most outsiders would not. But he also has an extraordinary sense of composition and tone. Some of his images at composited (no examples available for download) but I generally find these less powerful.

http://www.marcusbleasdale.com/sources/ipad/index.php#home

Rape of a Nation.    http://mediastorm.com/publication/rape-of-a-nation

Roger Fenton

Roger Fenton (28 March 1819 – 8 August 1869) was a pioneering British photographer, one of the first war photographers.

Roger Fenton was born in Crimble Hall, then within the parish of Bury, Lancashire, on 28 March 1819. His grandfather was a wealthy cotton manufacturer and banker, his father a banker and Member of Parliament. Fenton was the fourth of seven children by his father’s first marriage. His father had 10 more children by his second wife.

In 1838 Fenton went to University College London where he graduated in 1840 with a “first class” Bachelor of Arts degree, having studied English, mathematics, Greek and Latin. In 1841, he began to study law at University College, evidently sporadically as he did not qualify as a solicitor until 1847, in part because he had become interested in studying to be a painter. Fenton visited the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in London in 1851 and was impressed by the photography on display there. He then visited Paris to learn the waxed paper calotype process, most likely from William Fox Henry Talbot, its inventor. By 1852 he had photographs exhibited in England, and travelled to Kiev, Moscow and St. Petersburg making calotypes there, and photographed views and architecture around Britain. His published call for the setting up of a photographic society was answered with its establishment in 1853; the Photographic Society, with Fenton as founder and first Secretary, later became the Royal Photographic Society under the patronage of Prince Albert.

In 1855 Fenton was sent to the Crimean War as the first official war photographer. He had the endorsement of the Duke of Newcastle, secretary of state for war, and the patronage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The resulting photographs may have been intended to offset the general aversion of the British people to an unpopular war and to counteract the occasionally critical reporting of correspondent William Howard Russell of The Times. The photographs were to be converted into woodblocks and published in the less critical Illustrated London News. Fenton took Marcus Sparling as his photographic assistant, a servant and a large van of equipment. Due to the size and cumbersome nature of his photographic equipment, Fenton was limited in his choice of motifs. Because the photographic material of his time needed long exposures, he was only able to produce pictures of unmoving objects, mostly posed pictures; he avoided making pictures of dead, injured or mutilated soldiers.

Fenton also photographed the landscape, including an area near to where the Light Brigade—made famous in Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade”—was ambushed. His Versions of Valley of the Shadow of Death, with and without cannonballs  is a seminal image in war photography but also a controversial one because the two versions that exist show that Fenton repositioned the cannon balls in the second version to make the image more compelling. In letters home soldiers had called the original valley “The Valley of Death”, and Tennyson’s poem used the same phrase, so when in September 1855 Thomas Agnew put the picture on show, as one of a series of eleven collectively titled Panorama of the Plateau of Sebastopol in Eleven Parts in a London exhibition, he took the troops’—and Tennyson’s—epithet, expanded it as The Valley of the Shadow of Death with its deliberate evocation of Psalm 23, and assigned it to the piece; it is not the location of the famous charge, which took place in a long, broad valley several miles to the south-east. In 2007 film-maker Errol Morris went to Sevastopol to identify the site of this “first iconic photograph of war”. He identified the small valley, shown on a later map as “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”, as the place where Fenton had taken his photograph. Two pictures were taken of this area, one with several cannonballs on the road, the other with an empty road. Opinions differ concerning which one was taken first. Morris concludes that the photo without the cannonballs was taken first, but he remains uncertain about why balls were moved onto the road in the second picture—perhaps, he notes, Fenton deliberately placed them there to enhance the image. The alternative is that soldiers were gathering up cannonballs for reuse and they threw down balls higher up the hill onto the road and ditch for collection later. Other art historians, such as Nigel Spivey of Cambridge University, identify the images as from the nearby Woronzoff Road. This is the location accepted by the local tour guides.

Despite high temperatures, breaking several ribs, and suffering from cholera, in all Fenton managed to make over 350 usable large format negatives. An exhibition of 312 prints was soon on show in London, in the gallery of publisher Thomas Agnew. Sales were not as good as expected, possibly because the war had ended.

In 1858 Fenton made studio genre studies based on romantically imaginative ideas of Muslim life, such as Seated Odalisque, using friends and models who were not always convincing in their roles.

Although well known for his Crimean War photography, his photographic career lasted little more than a decade, and in 1862 he abandoned the profession entirely, selling his equipment and becoming almost forgotten by the time of his death seven years later. He was later formally recognised by art historians for his pioneering work and artistic endeavour. In recognition of the importance of his photography, Fenton’s photos of the Crimean war were included in the Life collection, 100 Photos that Changed the World.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dana Lixenberg

My work is partly about the inevitable downside and consequences of capitalism which can result in a sense of alienation…actually I am part of it, and even people I photograph are part of this system and keep it going. I think [capitalism] has become a given because you can see how former and current communist countries are going the same way. I’m really aware of that, and want to face the realities and the downsides of that system that I find also attractive.

I find that the [documentary] portraits and landscapes are really about slowing down, cutting out all the noise and really taking time to contemplate the world around me every time with new eyes. The plain and the everyday is often very exciting to me. It can reveal a lot about life. I’m really inspired by details and I am usually more inspired by non-dramatic settings. Some of my images may seem boring, where there is nothing obvious going on, but I like playing with that, being on the fringes of boring.

While I have no expectation that I can influence social change or that I can ever make a concrete impact with the photographs, I do feel it’s kind of empowering to give the people you photograph a timeless presence in the larger world.

Google images

 

Interview for Mossless magazine

Overview: http://www.thelastdaysofshishmaref.com/shishmaref3/cms/cms_module/index.php

Film presentation:  http://www.thelastdaysofshishmaref.com/shishbook/shishbook_release-1.1.11/MainView.html 

The Last Days of Shishmaref (2008) by Dana Lixenberg mixes landscape with formal portraits and still life to create a dynamic portrait of an Alaskan community that is under imminent threat from the sea due to the increasingly later freeze of the protective permafrost that encircles the island. The traditions of this community, mostly of Inuit origin, are just as much under threat as the precarious strip of land. The images in the book are informed with essays by geographers and environmentalists.

Lixenberg’s trademark is a 4×5 camera and tripod. This gives an intensity of experience between the photographer and those she photographs that she feels is not there with other types of cameras. She enjoys illustrating contrast in her work and portraying people in pure form.

Biography

Dana Lixenberg (born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands,1964) lives and works in New York and Amsterdam. Lixenberg originally went to New York to become an au pair and then discovered photography at a night school class. She studied Photography at the London College of Printing in London (1984-1986) and at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam (1987-1989).

Her breakthrough in the U.S. came in 1993, when she was awarded a project grant by the Fonds BKVB (The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture) for a series of portraits at the Imperial Courts Housing Project in Los Angeles,CA. She was soon getting commissions from a wide variety of magazines such as Vibe, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsweek and The Telegraph magazine amongst many others.

Lixenberg continuously worked on long term personal projects, mostly focused on individuals and communities on the margins of society. Lixenberg has been the recipient of several project and publication grants in the Netherlands.

  • 1999 she was the subject of a documentary titled: Dana Lixenberg, thru dutch eyes 
  • 2005 she was featured in an episode of the documentary series ‘Hollands Zicht’ (Dutch Vision) both for Dutch television.
  • 2005 Jeffersonville, Indiana was awarded Best Dutch Book Design,
  • 2008 The Last Days of Shishmaref, was also awarded Best Dutch Book Design, 2008.

Since 2008 Lixenberg has been revisiting the Imperial Courts Housing Project in Los Angeles for a follow up to the series from 1993. In spring 2015 Huis Marseille, Amsterdam will organize a large scale exhibition of Imperial Courts coinciding with the release of a publication.

Other work

Lixenberg photographs people from all social classes.

I’ve never taken a different  approach between photographing celebrities and un-known individuals,  The fragility of life is experienced by all. ..When shooting people who have had a lot of media exposure I’m not interested in reinforcing their public image. I try to really see the person that’s in front of me, the way they are at that particular moment stripped from all the surrounding distractions like their entourage and to slowly bring them to a place where they don’t present a persona basically where they don’t try to hard. 

In addition to ordinary people, Lixenberg has photographed a number of American celebrities, including Prince and Whitney Houston.

Lixenberg is also a film director and directed the Dutch singer Anouk’s 2005 video ‘One Word’

 

Martin Parr

Martin Parr (born 1952) trained in photography at Manchester Polytechnic.

Described in the past as Margaret Thatcher’s favourite  photographer, Parr caused a stir when he tried to join

Magnum Photos. The issue was one of integrity. Photographers within Magnum’s ranks guarded their territory jealously and felt that the work that Parr offered was voyeuristic, titillating and
meaningless. Parr was eventually accepted at Magnum in 1994 and went on to become one of the leading authorities on photography in the UK.

Parr has an ability to turn the snapshot into art. There is however something of the satirical about this work – many of the images raise a smile. Parr worked mainly in colour and his approach was to over-light with fill-in flash, causing a frozen moment in time to be even more false yet far more real.  His work is quirky and opportunistic. He makes no bones about the latter; invited to an event, he takes the opportunity to produce images that will lead to further projects. His approach is direct. He doesn’t ask permission and if someone sees that he is photographing them he will continue on the basis that it’s his job to photograph them, record their reaction, etc. The characteristic Parr style is still there 30 years on.

Listen to Martin Parr talking about his images and practice:

 

Parr has produced a wide range of work.

  • Last Resort: Photographs of New Brighton (1986). One of his first
    major colour pieces.This style was to become synonymous with Parr and his ability to create from the ordinary. The little girl could be the focus of the image but the boy is also interesting. The car and the lighthouse are both essential to the composition.
  • A recent project in the suburbs of Paris depicts ordinary
    life within a diverse, mainly immigrant, community.
  • St Moritz series shows the rich at play in a way that only people who work there would normally get to see.
  • Luxury – a recent Martin Parr project where he looks at the rich and their pastimes.

The Parrworld (2008) show exhibited some of Parr’s extensive collection of kitsch souvenirs and other disparate paraphernalia: a watches with pictures of Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, bubblegum pop pin-up wallpaper. He compares photography to collecting: the world is out there for the having.

Parr has edited three volumes of his collections of postcards:

  • Boring Postcards (1999)
  • Boring Postcards USA (2000)
  • Langweilige Postkarten (2001).

The subjects within Boring Postcards are what we judge to be mundane or prosaic, such as motorways, service stations, tower blocks, school and other modernist municipal buildings – structures that we take for granted and might even consider to be ‘eyesores’. They weren’t necessarily photographed for their beauty in any traditional sense, but because of their novelty value as photographic subjects. [Many of the images in the UK edition are attributed to the Frith photographic company.] They are in fact often quite unusual and remarkably intriguing.

 Exercise: Getting the Parr ‘feel’

For this exercise, photograph people engaged in a fun or social activity outdoors. For example, you could go to a seaside resort and photograph people having a good time. Or photograph people at an outdoor party or function. Try to capture the Martin Parr ‘feel’.
Use your camera flash or a flash gun to balance the daylight. You need to take light readings from the ambient light and then set the flash gun to produce a small amount of flash – not enough to turn the scene into night – running the camera at a slower speed than the flash would normally synch at.
Getting the flash /ambient light balance right is the key to the technical side of the whole look.
This is the camera’s reaction under normal circumstances. A slower shutter speed than the recommended flash setting may help a lot.
This will work very differently for a range of cameras and you may need individual support and advice for this relative to your personal camera equipment.
Produce a set of eight colour images. Ensure that the colour is bright and reflects the nature of Martin Parr’s work. How does this lighting effect change the nature of your images? Make
some notes in your learning log.

Paul Seawright

Paul Seawright is best known for his ‘late photography’ of battle-sites and minefields. He often uses vintage technology and a much older approaches to conflict photography. But rather than reportage, his images are made for museum-going audiences and gallery patrons by people who call themselves ‘artists’.

website

If it is too explicit it becomes journalistic. If it is too ambiguous, it becomes meaningless…The constriction of meaning is done by the person looking at it. The artist has to leave space for that’

‘Paul Seawright, Voice Our Concern Artist’s Lecture 2010’ is a 40 minute illustrated artists lecture by the artist photographer Paul Seawright given in the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in November 2010. Paul talks about the use of photography in conflict situations as often being unreliable and how his work as a photographic artist is a response to this. He presents photographs from the Crimean war and discusses the influence of photographer Paul Graham on his work. He describes the difference between photo journalism and art in the context of artists defining their subjects and in the construction of meaning. He goes on to discuss and present examples of his Sectarian Murder Work series. This Voice Our Concern lecture was a joint project organised by IMMA and Amnesty International Ireland.

The Forest 2001

17 photographs of desolate roadside lay-bys, ditches and car parks shot at night and lit by what we assume to be streetlights. By day they would probably be ordinary, but at night with the lighting they take on a sinister tone (like images we are used to seeing in detective TV series). ‘Because there is such a division between what we can see and what we cannot see (the fall off of the light does not allow for much penetration into the forest edge) what belongs there (the trees, underbrush and roadside curbs) and what doesn’t belong there (us), these are photographs that place the viewer into the shoes of the vulnerable’ (Paul Seawright’s website)

Hidden (2002)

In 2002 Seawright was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum London to undertake a war art commission in Afghanistan.In spite of the climate in which they were made, have a cool, Becher-like objectivity to them. Tension is created by concealing as much as is revealed in the photographs and their caption. Through unorthodox framing, selective focusing in places, and at times seemingly banal viewpoints, there is a palpable sense of unease in this landscape that is strewn with concealed lethal hazards. For example another image shows recently dug up mines – done by hand because they cannot be identified with mine detectors against the rest of the iron in the land., as well as America’s most wanted outlaw, who would take a further nine years to track down. His photograph of shells in Afghanistan explicitly echoes Fenton’s famous image from the Crimea.

For some of the main images and reviews (eg John Stathatos) see: http://www.paulseawright.com/hidden/

Invisible Cities 2007   

after Italo Calvino book.

Seawright travelled to major cities in sub-Saharan Africa, exploring communities on the edge of conurbations, both geographically and socially. Comprises varied photographs, some of which are recognisable as landscape pictures, or environmental portraiture. None of the titles of the photographs refer to specific locations or people, which emphasises the indistinct nature and anonymity of these places and their inhabitants.

Bridge (2006) the road bridge, presumably an interchange of major roads on the edge of the city, cleanly divides the frame in two. A yellow bus heads along the road towards the city from, we suppose, the sanctuary of the suburbs, taking children to school or their parents to work. The sky is empty and bleak, echoed by the detritus that sprawls below, shielded by the flyover from the view of the bus’s passengers.

Things Left Unsaid

Biography

Paul Seawright is Professor of Photography and Head of Belfast School of Art at the University of Ulster. His photographic work is held in many museum collections including The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Tate, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, International Centre of Photography New York, Arts Councils of Ireland, England and N.Ireland, UK Government Collection and the Museum of Contemporary Art Rome. They have also been exhibited in Spain, France, Germany, Korea, Japan and China.  In 2003 he represented Wales at the Venice Biennale of Art and in 1997 won the Irish Museum of Modern Art/Glen Dimplex Prize. He is represented by the Kerlin Gallery Dublin.

Photography, memory and place

“… in Photography, I can never deny that the thing has been there. There is a superimposition here: of reality and of the past. And since this constraint exists only for Photography, we must consider it, by reduction, as the very essence, the noeme of Photography.” (Barthes 1982,p.76)

Photographic images affect the way we remember moments we experienced ourselves, and our impressions of things we experience via the image alone. Barthes also proposes how the photograph can act as a “counter-memory”, aggressively blocking impressions formed by our other senses as it “fills the sight by force” (ibid, p. 91 quoted Alexander 2013p107).

Many practitioners have engaged with idead of personal memories (family albums, holidays) in one form or another:

  • Trish Morrissey
  • Gillian Wearing
  • Joachim Schmid.
  • Peter Kane goes back to places depicted in his family’s photo album and re-photographs and superimposes the images.

Photography has also been used to explore and challenge the construction of collective memories (eg documentation of ‘early’ or ‘late’ photography as well as events unfolding)

  • Shimon Attie uses contemporary media to explore relationships between space,time, place and identity working with communities to find new ways of representing their history.
  • Jeff Wall produces large tableaux of events, or staged events, referencing the way history painting interpreted and often glorified historical events.
  • Luc Delahaye also references history painting, using large format analogue cameras to document meetings, political ceremonies and war zones.

But as Bates cautions (see also my reaction to Meyerowitz):

“As sites of memory, photographic images (whether digital or analogue) offer not a view on history but, as mnemonic devices, are perceptual phenomena upon which a historical representation may be constructed. Social memory is interfered with by photography precisely because of its affective and subjective status…in terms of history and memory, photographs demand analysis rather than hypnotic reverie’ (Bate The Memory of Photography pp255-256)

The matter of ‘reality’ is an important aspect to consider in relation to all areas of photography: who is recording what, why, for whom and why?

3.5: Local history

3.6: ‘The Memory of Photography

Industrial and post-industrial landscapes

Some activist photographers have been mainly concerned with industrial and post-industrial landscapes. Here big industry becomes the ‘new sublime’ to be feared and confronted in the hope of change and avoiding disaster.

Other photographers have avoided any overt messages, rather asking questions to which the viewer may have different answers. These take a gentler, more ‘picturesque’ approach.

Post-industrial spaces have also inspired a new kind of tourism: urban exploration of derelict factories and warehouses, abandoned hospitals and asylums, any kind of space that is shut up, difficult to get to (eg below ground) or in any other way off-limits or hazardous. “Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but photographs.”

There are dedicated websites and chatrooms, such as

A film discussing urban exploration: https://vimeo.com/26200018

This has been echoed by increasing interest in ‘dark tourism’

Urbex

Landscape as a Call to Action

Photography, and the manipulation of photographs, is often used to highlight and raise political questions. Landscape photography in particular is often used in environmental activism – images of environmental degradation, urban squalor. In NGO advertising (eg GreenPeace) photographs are often manipulated to juxtapose elements that are then countered by a caption.

  • Peter Kennard produces explicit political photomontage in the dadaist tradition linked to political campaigning organisations – for example his ‘Hay Wain with Cruise Missiles’ (1980)
  • Edward Burtynsky produces large-format photographs of industrial landscapes altered by industry – an ‘industrial sublime’ creating tension between awe-inspiring beauty and the compromised environments he depicts.
  • Mitch Epstein also uses large format, but less ‘beautiful’ images that do not aim to convey a specific message, and are more documentary in juxtaposing complex narratives.
  • Dana Lixenberg in works like the Last Days of Shishmaref uses landscape and portrait photography alongside working with environmentalists and local activists to produce powerful participatory social documentary.
  • Ikka Halso uses digital montage, including 3D, to build dystopian landscapes that raise questions about the ways in which human beings are attempting to control nature.

Exercise 3.4: A persuasive image