Photoworks Issue 16

1 June 2011

This issue of Photoworks magazine engages with the possibilities for photography as both a tool for the documentation of protest and as a vehicle for protest and political activism.

‘When making this issue of the magazine it seemed timely, given the momentous political and social changes taking place in this country and globally, to look at photography in a different way; to temporarily reject the idea of photography as its own subject, or even as a subject at all, and to instead view it as a vehicle for ideas, responses and protests in the hands of the visually and politically articulate.


Images seem to be at the forefront of both activism and state-led political subterfuge. One only has to look at, or not look at, the most influential and important picture in the world today – the photograph of the body of Osama Bin Laden – to realise the political weight that an image can hold.

Now, more than ever before, images have the potential to help to force change in the right hands or to pose extreme threat in the wrong ones. They are a global political and social currency. I feel it is our urgent duty both as citizens and professionals to explore, to engage with, to debate and to understand this subject area. ‘

The above is part of an introduction to a talk I gave earlier this week. It’s a pretty bold (and necessarily brief) statement. Maybe we could start by discussing the very broad question of what are the possibilities for photographers and artists to bring about meaningful engagement and political change through the dissemination and understanding of their work.

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