Cultural Sniping

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Notes from my MA in Photography

Cultural Sniping – The Art of Transgression – Jo Spence – Routledge London and New York 1995

Questioning Documentary Practice 
” for it is important to understand that whenever there is a photographer and a photographed, wherever there is a story to be told, unless the photography or an exchange of knowledge is reciprocal then there will always be an imbalance of power. What I mean by this is that if a documentary practise involves only the exposure or revelation of one party, then it is an unfair transaction. I am not suggesting that all photography be done on a reciprocal basis, but that we mark out the territory as problematic.”

” Equally a photographer ‘takes’ pictures of someone which are then in turn used for a purpose outside the control of the subject ( matter) photographed who is not consulted on their use or asked to put a personal story or text with them. This means that the questions of cultural identity will always be imposed from outside, and we will be forced to collude in such a tying down process because of the poverty of ideas of how to invent and define ourselves. In all documentary photography, where people are represented, the questions of identity is paramount” – Jo Spence 

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