Sarah Pickering researches truth versus verisimilitude through the medium of photography. Her unmanipulated images preserve actions whose causality and construction seems to be part of an alternate, but no lesser, reality. She has worked with the emergency services, pyrotechnic manufacturers, TV prop makers and the police to produce some of her most recent bodies of work.
Exhibitions include How We Are: Photographing Britain, Tate Britain (2007); New Photography in Britain, Galleria Civica di Modena, Italy (2008); Signs of a Struggle: Photography in the Wake of Postmodernism, Victoria and Albert Museum (2011); Theatres of the Real, Fotomuseum, Antwerp (2009); Manipulating Reality, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, (2009/10).
Solo exhibitions include Ffotogallery, Wales (2009), Incident Control at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2010) and Art and Antiquities at Meessen De Clercq, Brussels (2011). Her monograph Explosions, Fires and Public Order is published by Aperture and MoCP. Sarah is represented by Meessen De Clercq, Brussels.
For more information, visit Sarah Pickering's website here
The Explosion pictures document the literal theatre of war - the detailed level of artifice used to prepare men and women for combat on the front lines. They also reveal the minutiae of packaging war as entertainment. The beauty of the pictures lies in their perverse seductiveness, and this attraction underscores the distance most of us have from real combat.
Pickering's Explosion images, by distilling an aspect of the war that is a fiction, question the reliability of seemingly objective historical accounts, such as news reports and photographs that influence how war is communicated and remembered. By extension they question how we come to know what we know about it. We learn about war from a variety of sources, from history books, first-hand accounts, news media, and movies, all of which can get confused and merged in our minds as memory.
The dual purpose of the explosives - training and re-enacting - forms a fitting parallel to how we cope with trauma, a process of both anticipation and reconciliation.