British photographic history

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Course: Shooting War: Photography, History, Representation / from 21 February

From the sepia-toned mass graves of the American Civil War to today’s drone shots of the destroyed Syrian city of Aleppo, war photographs have shaped and continue to inform our understanding of human conflict.  Far from neutral, war photographs challenge our sense of humanity in a complex exchange between ‘taking’ and ‘viewing’. Exploring this relationship through an analytical rather than aesthetic perspective, our six-week course will introduce you to the ethical, theoretical and practical issues connected with taking, viewing and reproducing war photographs.

Beginning with a historical overview and rare opportunity to view original war photographs from the Library’s collection, we’ll consider key themes including photography and truth, ethics and aesthetics, and the idea of cultural memory. Throughout the course we’ll refer to the Library’s extensive photography collections, and analyze photographic images using a variety of theoretical approaches.

Centering our course within contemporary practice, we’ll also spend an exclusive evening at the nearby Foundling Museum, where innovative documentary artist Mark Neville will talk frankly about his photographs taken on the frontline in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Kenya, on display in the exhibition Child’s Play (3 February–30 April 2017).

This course is led by Dr Eleanor Chiari (University College, London) with contributions from British Library curator John Falconer (Lead Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photography Collections) and documentary artist Mark Neville.

In collaboration with the Foundling Museum.

Course dates: Tuesdays 21 and 28 February and  7, 14, 21 and 28 March
Times: 18.00 – 20.00
Where: British Library, London

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