Constructing the Real: Staged Photography and the Documentary Tradition

Green, David (2009) Constructing the Real: Staged Photography and the Documentary Tradition In: Theatres of the Real. Photoworks/Fotomuseum Provincie Antwerpen, Brighton/Antwerp, pp. 103-110. ISBN 9781903796269

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Abstract

The various senses of ‘theatricality’ as being artificial, affected and, ultimately, deceptive or false, seem to stand in direct contrast to photography’s claim to the values of realism and truth. Yet the act of staging people, objects and events for the camera has been an integral part of photography from its inception. This essay looks at the recent re-emergence of the use of strategies of the staged photograph within the domain of documentary practices. With reference to John Grierson’s promotion of documentary as ‘the creative treatment of actuality’, and Jeff Wall’s analysis of photo-conceptualism’s reworking of ‘art-photography-as-reportage’, it is argued that the repositioning of documentary photography into the domain of art has brought with it a new set of possibilities for new kinds of documentary practices specific to the gallery. In this context, the staged photograph, deemed illegitimate or inappropriate within the traditional confines of documentary, nonetheless offers itself as a suitable vehicle for documentary’s claims to address the world in which we live and to act as a prelude to forms of social agency.

Item Type: Chapter in book
Additional Information: The book, in which this essay appears, was published on the occasion of the exhibition 'Theatres of the Real' held at the Fotomuseum Antwerp, June-September 2009, and curated by David Green and Joanna Lowry.
Uncontrolled Keywords: photography; documentary; staged photography
Subjects: W000 Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
W000 Creative Arts and Design > W600 Photography and Film
W000 Creative Arts and Design > W600 Photography and Film > W640 Photography
Faculties: Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Arts > School of Arts and Media
Depositing User: David Green
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2010
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2014 14:36
URI: http://eprints.brighton.ac.uk/id/eprint/6506

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