Bullets whizz past, bombs thunder in the background, people run in all directions. The camera does not give a stable image, but moves, runs and bumps into things, making you feel as if it is you running around. This video footage, part of the exhibition ‘All That Fits: The Aesthetics of Journalism’, doesn’t so much frame the images as part of a story, but keeps you guessing as to what is going on.
The relationship between the production of pictures and media distribution of information is the key theme of the exhibition at QUAD Gallery in Derby. It is based on a book by one of the curators, Alfredo Cramerotti, which discusses how time constraints and problematic power relations influences journalism. The project is divided into three chapters: one on ‘The Speaker’, one on ‘The Image’, and the one currently on show: ‘The Militant’, which sees more than twenty artists explore how counter-images are produced, and how research can uncover a different truth behind an image.
[pullquote]”The different pieces on display are very diverse for such a small exhibition and it is often hard to see how they relate to each other, or sometimes indeed to journalism.”[/pullquote]
From fragments of written accounts about deportation to video footage, the collection is incredibly varied. One of the pieces to stand out is ‘The Dreadful Details’, a diptych of a war situation showing the wounded and dead, as well as soldiers fraught with agression and distraught civilians. All the details are perfectly clear and clean; it is hard to decipher whether this is a real news photo or the work of an artist. Another piece of video footage tracks the road of a refugee from Siberia to Liverpool by using simultaneous projections on two screens. On one side, satellite images and pictures show the distance he travelled in a technical way. On the other screen, the human side to his experience is made clear as we are shown footage of the man moving around his room and a list of the refugee camps visited, as well as the problems he encountered along the way.
The different pieces on display are very diverse for such a small exhibition and it is often hard to see how they relate to each other, or sometimes indeed to journalism. A collection of pictures of doctors’ signs, supposedly taken by a doctor but actually made by an art collective, may give food for thought, but not in terms of examining the corporate media industry. The same goes for a video of a man reading ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ at a train station: it is somehow related to reporting war, but it is hard to see its relevance with regards to modern developments.
The pieces in Derby are all worth seeing as a reflection on the creation of a story. Unfortunately, the bigger picture concerning the relationship between art and journalism seems to be missing from the exhibition.
‘All That Fits: The Aesthetics of Journalism’ will be in Derby until the 31st of July. Entrance is free.