Issue 64 — Autumn 2010
Unlike films, photographs are usually taken to be real, rather than fictional. As Mick Gidley shows however, it is a short step from speculation about what is going on in a documentary photograph, to full-blown make-believe. Reality is not an impediment to fiction but a stimulus to it, and this can be found in novels as well as in staged and directed photographs.
Mark Durden interviews Sarah Dobai and they discuss the influence of cinema in her work and the tensions between staged and documentary photography. Her most recent work, featured in this issue, developed out of observations of how people behave in shopping malls. Studio/Location Photographs continues her interest in characters whose behaviour is dictated by circumstances beyond their control.
Since Walter Benjamin remarked that Atget photographed Paris as if it were the scene of a crime we have become familiar with restrained art photographs being compared to forensic photography. It is striking then that Malcolm Gilbert, who witnessed directly the violence of Northern Ireland's Troubles, instead draws his inspiration from pulp fiction novels and films. The excess of these genres gives him space to make images that articulate experience that would otherwise be unspeakable.
Caitlin Duennebier's work attempts to understand her mother's struggle with mental illness; something which has been part of both their lives for over twenty years. Her mother has also recently returned to the Catholic Church which has reintroduced the figure of the Devil to her life, in particular as the embodiment of the fears brought about by her illness. Through a combination of documentary and staged images, in which she dramatises her mother's relationship with the Devil, Duennebier's work shifts between dark humour and heartfelt portraiture.
— The Editors