August 4, 2003, (near) Tikrit, Iraq
© Geert van Kesteren
Courtesy the artist
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Speaking and Responses

27.10.08 | Julian Stallabrass

I have been speaking about the Biennial in many different circumstances and to many different audiences. Something that has come across very strongly is that many people are deeply engaged by the subject, often feel that they have not been well-served by the mass-media depictions of it, and appreciate an attempt to bring about a more considered and critical view. Much of what I have done in curating the Biennial is to re-present photojournalism in a frame that allows for a deeper engagement with it, and that places it in a context in which longer and more complex narratives and implied arguments can be built. This suggests that the photographic material as such is not powerless, shallow or trivial, and that the audience is not constitutionally apathetic, but that the way in which the media handles that material fosters trivialisation and undermines trust.

I have also been reading the comments books in the Brighton exhibitions, and these have contained long, thoughtful and deeply felt responses. They are remarkable documents, and we will start to put some of the comments onto the blog entries that ask for responses to each of the exhibitions.