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Monday, 6 March 2017

The history of photojournalism in one room. In Bath!

All images from the Incite Collection: Main image by Philip Jones Griffiths....

I'm not sure that I've seen the history of photojournalism summed up quite as well as in this exhibition in Bath. Of all places.

Think of an iconic image from the history of photojournalism and it is probably in there - in real life material form. Not everything is in there and there are great big global and historical gaps but I guess those will be filled as time goes by. The sequence of images also serves as a history of how photojournalism has been made, produced and disseminated so there is a lot happening under the surface.

All the images are from the Incite collection. It really is quite something to see them all in the flesh. This is the first time the collection (which you can read about here) has been exhibited.

You get the feeling this is just the beginning as there are so many supporting materials, ideas and philosophies that could be in there.

It's not the most interesting element of the show, but given the debate concerning the recent World Press Photo Winner, the photographic representation of death is one of those elements. Burhan Ozbilici's winning image would be a centrepiece of this exhibition. It could sit right opposite the massive Falling Man image, which of course is another aestheticised image. 

And round the corner would be the napalm girl (it didn't end a war), the Vietcong man being shot (the real victim is the man being shot, not the man doing the shooting), the burning monk (one of many burning monks), one shot president, one shot presidential candidate, a dead child on the beach, someone pretending to die, a few people rubbed out of pictures, and countless other pictures of pain and anguish, put together into great sequences. 

It's a great show, and at the heart of it is the fact that it's all these pictures of war, death and suffering. That should be troubling but it's a version of history. 

The show is on at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath. 

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