For our final session of the project we visited the Conflict, Time, Photography exhibition at Tate Modern. From the capturing of the mushroom cloud of Hiroshima to documenting sites of executions 99 years later, the exhibition took the form of a chronological photographic response to war. It was a great show for the students as there were many famous photos and others that they would have never come across.
Each piece in the exhibition had a short text explaining the background of the work and a little context of the conflict. It was a show that needed a lot of concentration and I noticed early on that our students were spending much more time engaging with the works than they had been on previous gallery visits. They seemed to be more confident identifying why some images were stronger than others and considering the photographer’s intentions when making images.
In the last few months, the students have been doing personal projects on place and narrative. Many of them connected with Sophie Ristelhueber’s aerial views of the desert landscape of Kuwait after the first Gulf War. The piece skilfully mixes arial and close-up images, asking the viewer to question their perspective and the narrative the work is creating.
Other students appreciated approach of Luc Delahaye, whose photograph of a plume of smoke floating in the air after the US bombing of a Taliban position, as it took an alternative approach to capturing conflict.
In order to encourage the students to engage with the subject, context and form of works, we gave each of them a worksheet with a number of questions on. These questions required students to look at the images, make a personal judgement and express their views in words. It also allowed the students to engage with works that they might’ve passed by without questioning.
We ended the session with the students sharing some of their responses to the worksheet.