Luc Delahaye, further thoughts

Posted on by Ben Hodson


In understanding my practice as someone who uses photography and video, I have had to ask questions such as where does documentary end and art begin? This question seemed easy to answer several years ago, but now I find myself dipping into these two distinct areas in different ways.  Artists such as Luc Delahaye blur the distinctions further (it is worth noting his work is one of my personal favourites). “Delahaye's big pictures ask more questions than they answer about the increasingly blurred line between reportage and art, the importance of scale, and the tangible sense of detachment that characterises a certain strand of contemporary photography.” Sean O'Hagan, Tuesday 9 August 2011 09.00 BST

The Deutch Borse prize winner is a photojournalist and artist. His large format   works blur the lines between reportage and fine art. I find both how he has been accepted in the art world and the scale of his work interesting. Delahaye has long crossed the line between photojournalist and artist. The scale at which his prints are reproduced and the high quality result that he obtains from the medium/large format photography gives the viewer a reaction which is more profound then the usual journalistic image. His work makes me start to question the nature and genre of my own work.  


Research: Vietnam war photography

Posted on by Ben Hodson

The Soviet Union dictator Stalin argued that “One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”(Joseph Stalin)  Although I do not agree with the statement or the man, in reality we find that we need to identify with the individual in the suffering before it really hits home.  There had already been hundreds of images of the death and destruction come back from the Vietnam conflict, why were Nick Ut’s and Eddie Adam’s images so powerful, so unique?  I believe it is because the individual suffering of the Vietcong soldier and the young children from Trang Bang village is something any human or parent could identify with.  These images show the worst aspects of war and awaken us to the unbelievable sinful nature of mankind.

Eddie Adams' photo may have been more influential in starting the move towards a public majority set against the occupation of Vietnam.  The image depicts the exact moment a bullet entered the skull of the Vietcong prisoner, what it didn't show was the fact that the man had just killed a number of American soldiers.  A specific still image is incredibly powerful, especially as it freezes a brief moment, which can easily be taken out of context.  In Time magazine July 1998, Eddie Adams wrote; “Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths...” (Eddie Adams, 1998).  Adams believed that although the general was the one who had killed the Vietcong soldier, he said that he had killed the general with his camera. The image certainly rallied support for the anti-war movement, but the evidence is not conclusive that the image solely accomplished anything.

Although this area of art or more specifically photography does demonstrate some tangible change in the world.  It is not an area I want to concentrate my research on.  Due to the content of my Iraq work, it is relevant to look at other wars.

Artist: Dorothy Lange

Posted on by Ben Hodson

Documentary and photojournalism seems to me, to be one of the most obvious agitators in the change of popular opinion.  Documentary photography came out of the public's desire to view the “reality” of situations.  There are a number of examples of documentary photographers who managed to draw attention to issues that they felt needed to be changed.  Dorothy Lange's image “Migrant Mother”(1936) was dubbed the image that changed US policy towards the incredible poverty during the great depression in America.  Her image of a mother and her children both affected the left political resolve and forced new aid to the people directly affected by the starvation.  Lange intentionally composed the shot to give maximum impact.  Through some initial research we see that this individual family actually had a car and had just returned from their work place.  These facts were not made clear for a number of years and her image certainly doesn't relay this information.  This removing of the context made her image incredibly powerful and subsequently has become one of the most reproduced images in the US.  It certainly is one of the most famous images associated with the great depression in America.