In this edited excerpt, Sarah Pickering speaks about two series from her Aperture monograph: Public Order and Explosion. She introduces her first major photographic series, Public Order, which depicts the empty training sets at the Metropolitan Police Public Order Training Center in UK. Pickering describes how the "sense of latent violence" in the empty sets was much more "evocative" and powerful to her than trying to capture action shots. She also touches on the autobiographical aspect related to this series.
In Explosion, Pickering documents the tactical use of controlled explosions by the British military to add realistic stress to training exercises. When describing the motivation behind this series, Pickering explains how she started working on this while the demonstrations against the war in Iraq were happening in UK, and she was thinking of the soldiers' training scenarios. These spectacular yet tragic explosions also reference the tradition of landscape photography.
The full version of this talk is available on vimeo and on our multimedia section, divided in five different clips.
This conversation between photographer Sarah Pickering and independent writer, lecturer, and curator Susan Bright, took place March 31, 2010, on the occasion of the publication of Pickering's first monograph: Explosions, Fires and Public Order. This monograph brings together four of Sarah Pickering's photographic series which collectively present a visually arresting glimpse into the secret world of civil defense.
Sarah Pickering (born in Durham City, England, 1972) finished her MA in photography at the Royal College of Art in London in 2005. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Photographers' Gallery Graduate Award and a Jerwood Award. Pickering has exhibited internationally and in the UK where her work was part of How We Are: Photographing Britain, at Tate Britain co-curated by Susan Bright.
Susan Bright is well known internationally for her contributions to the photographic world as commentator, exhibition curator, and author. Previous posts include Assistant Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, London; Curator at the Association of Photographers, London; and Acting Director for the MA photography course (Historic and Contemporary) at Sotheby's Institute, London. As an author, Bright is best known for Art Photography Now, published by Thames & Hudson and Aperture.
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