Informing Contexts, Coursework - Responses & Responsibilities / David Campany, Safety in Numbness

This week, we looked at practitioners who aim to evoke political, social or environmental change though their imagery. At this time, I am not aiming for my work to be an agent for change, so I am not particularly concerned with these ideas in relation to my own practice. However, David Company’s essay Safety in Numbness: Some remarks on the problems of ‘Late Photography’was referenced in this week’s lectures, (having been previously mentioned in the Positions and Practice unit) which has made an impact on my work in progress. 

In his essay, Campany discusses photographers who chose to capture the ‘traces of an event’.  He refers to this kind of imagery as ‘aftermath’ photography, a term which i believe could be applied to many of the images have recently made.

Antelope Cafe. Antelope, OR

Stevenson, WA

Wasco, OR

Antelope School. Antelope, OR

‘Lamplighter’. Antelope, OR

‘What are we to make of the highly visible turn toward photographing the aftermath of events – traces, fragments, empty buildings, empty streets, damage to the body and damage to the world?’ (Campany, D. 2003).

Campany’s essay notes just how common it is to see this ‘late photography’. There is a definite trend for this imagery in contemporary photography, and although he lists practitioners whose work he considers ‘interesting’, such as Richard Misrach, he also states ‘as I write it is hard to avoid the cheaper moodiness of images of derelict buildings and urban wastelands on display in galleries across Europe and North America’.  (Campany, D. 2003). I am familiar with the latter, and I must be conscious that my photographs do not fall into this category. Although I know that these ‘aftermath’ images are impactful, I too have seen them many times before. Moving forward, I will continue to shoot this subject matter, as they are common features in the locations I am documenting, but I have decided to focus on them far less.

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