The Political Protest Photograph as an Artwork

Cover of Camerwork Volume 8

Political photographs in museums and national art galleries are rare beasts. At least they were for many years prior to an exhibition of photographs depicting life in Britain: Who We Are: Photographing Britain at Tate Britain, London during 2007. On the tenth anniversary, which is more coincidental than pre-arranged, I publish an essay, first written in 2014 as part of my MA in History of Photography. It cultivates the notion that rather than being a rarity, th protest photograph performs a function hitherto not recognised by curators and academics alike. Namely, that the protest photograph is not just a worthy artform for wider recognition by the major galleries and museums, but also one that functions in the same way as the History painting. Examples of history painting include such masterpices as Théodore Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa (1819), Oil on Canvas, that hangs majestically in its own salon in the Musée du Louvre, in Paris. The History painting, as any self respecting art historian knows, is the pinnacle of art, from which all other forms of visual art hang their credentials. To not do so would be considered suicidal!

Given the current political environment, and the constant references to the 1970s, the essay has been reworked for publication and many thanks to my former tutor Dr Patricia de Bello, from Birkbeck School of Art History, London, for the suggestions made to improve the essay’s worth. She has no doubt forgotten that she ever gave me any advise, but what stuck in my mind for the last 4 years, was that the essay would eventually be worthy of publication. I am of course, too old to revisit academia and the pitfalls of journal publication, so I have added it here on my blog for all those readers willing to take time to read it.

Go HERE for the article

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