The Politics of Aesthetics – Photojournalism vs the Panache of Art film:
Structuring Visuality and Recollecting informative Media within the Imperial Narrative
Presentation and film screening hosted in collaboration with Khaled Ramadan
Date & time: 27.2.2014, 18:00 ->
Location: Linnunlaulu, Eläintarhantie 18, 00530 Helsinki
Call for help: 050 400 5028
The lecture addresses the motives / motivation of media, political art and documentary film and the struggle to deliver ethical content. Although varied, the three categories often attempt to provide “justifiable participatory informative or transformative design” by relying on visuality as a tool.
Photojournalism as defined by images of poverty and suffering, was first documented as such in Nigeria around 1968. This imagery soon became a powerful object of desire for the mainstream media industry, an industry with a tendency to feed on spectacle.
Today, documentary photojournalistic works are also occasionally sold for their aesthetical value. They have found their way into art events like biennales and auction houses. Conflict photographers are being celebrated as “The Knights of Justice” because they are documenting atrocities; the question is how many war criminals are being prosecuted based on a prize-winning war photo?
Presentation of an analytical comparison between working methodologies: aspects of the aesthetic, and the goal of stimulating emotional awakening and social mobility with such imagery.
Theorists in focus, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Edward Said, Susan Sontag and Hal Foster.
1- “Wide Power”, 12-minute photo documentary by Khaled Ramadan. Visual dialog about the power of the lens, re-presentation and remembrance. In a narrative manner the video, addresses the notion of visual authority and the risk of diverting the visual documentation into Orientalism. As a video maker and photographer, Ramadan sees the parallels between his own images taken by others and the images he take of others.
2- Sequences from “Enjoy Poverty”, film of Renzo Martens’ activities in the Congo. The film establishes that images of poverty are the Congo’s most lucrative export, generating more revenue than traditional exports like gold, diamonds, or cocoa. However, just as with these traditional exports, those that provide the raw material – the poor being filmed – hardly benefit from it at all. While in the Congo, Martens also did something practical, setting up an emancipation program that aims to teach the poor how to benefit from their biggest ‘resource’: poverty.