This is an exhibition that explores the relationship between photography and war. Enitled Conflict, Time, Photography it features images from conflicts from the advent of photography right up to contemporary times.
For example, you can see a cannon-ball stricken landscape of the Crimean War from as far back as 1854, allegedly taken by Roger Fenton, but we also have Simon Norfolk's shot of sheep peacefully grazing among ruins in Afghanistan in 2001.
The images, save for one or two powerful portraits, are notably devoid of a human presence, many of them focusing instead on scarred landscapes. We don't see much in the way of explicit human suffering or heroism as we might expect from typical war photography. Curator of photography at the Tate , Simon Baker, posited the collection as "a conceptual reading of how war is remembered."
One of the images at the exhibition is this now well-known photo "Allegorie Der Güte" by Peter Pöppelmann. It depicts the aftermath of the dreadful fire-bombing of Dresden, and was taken from the somehow still-standing Rathausturm (town hall tower) at some point in late 1945
Therefore the principle that governs the sequence of photographs is not chronology, from earliest to latest, but the length of time elapsed between event and the photograph. They range, therefore, from immediate (moments later) to historical (over 100 years later.)
The point is to think about how memories and depictions of war are deployed and how that is affected by the passage of time. It is an interesting concept, and one well worth investigating in the midst of the centenary commemorations.
For more information and to buy tickets, please visit the Tate website.
A sneak preview of the images in the exhibition can be viewed here!
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