Should we picture a genocide? : Exploring the role of photojournalism as public art in the civic discussion of the conflicts in Iran, Iraq, and Syria

Lam, Hui Ling Ivy (2018) Should we picture a genocide? : Exploring the role of photojournalism as public art in the civic discussion of the conflicts in Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Masters thesis, LASALLE College of the Arts.

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Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: Should we picture a genocide? : Exploring the role of photojournalism as public art in the civic discussion of the conflicts in Iran, Iraq, and Syria
Synopsis:

Transcending its role as evidence or a tool for social change, photojournalistic images are now regarded equally as its formalistic counterpart with its entry into art circuits. This regard for photojournalistic works as a public art in a time of image saturation is seen in this thesis as a necessary transition to generate civic discourse. This is pertinent to photojournalistic narratives of the Middle East -- in particular, those concerning countries that have since imposed strict barriers to entry for tourists – as photographs are what is relied on to shape international understanding of the region. The conflicts in Iran, Iraq, and Syria, have been represented through a deluge of images of atrocities, and with the persistent circulation of such photographs, Susan Sontag posits that this would develop in viewers an image fatigue or impotence toward the inability to alleviate the pain they have witnessed. Recognising this threat to photojournalism, Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites recommend an aesthetic reading to photojournalism, and explain how the readings of photojournalistic works as public artworks can circumvent this image saturation. It is with this shift in the context of looking at these photographs that viewers can participate in the civic discourse of what these images represent. By extension, as civic participants and spectators of photojournalistic works, the viewer places himself in the same space as the subject and the photographer, forging a ‘civil contract’ that Ariella Azoulay proposes. In this contract, the once displaced subject is offered the same rights when he encounters the photographer and the viewer in the same photographic space. Through the aesthetic reading of pictures of atrocities exhibited in art galleries, photography of the un-photographable, and images of ruinations, this thesis shows how these subjects are participants in this ‘civil contract’, and how the civic spectator had, in the process, fulfilled the ethics of looking.

Subjects: Art History
Divisions: Faculty of Fine Arts > Master - Asian Art Histories
Depositing User: Ms Ashalatha Krishnan
Date Deposited: 13 May 2019 07:18
Last Modified: 13 May 2019 07:18
URI: http://drlib.lasalle.edu.sg/id/eprint/586
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