Look at some more images from this series on the artist’s website.
- How do Pickering’s images make you feel?
- Is Public Order an effective use of documentary or is it misleading? Make some notes in your learning log.
Looking at these images (1) certainly gives a sense of unease, the streets are empty and almost post-apocalyptic with bland walls and no sign of life. However, when you know the location, this feeling disappears and makes viewing them rather boring to me. I prefer to wonder about the location and the scenarios that I can create in my head.
As to whether it’s misleading is really down to the context, we know where Pickering took these photos, there is nothing that has been hidden or found out, so no, I don’t think it’s misleading at all. Just because this information isn’t freely given up at the beginning is purely down to artistic license and withholding this information from being completely apparent takes the viewer on a journey of their own imaginations. In my opinion this serves to create sort of fantasy which is to be experienced and enjoyed until you find out the truth. However, if these images were used alongside a different context, one in which the photographer was attempting to cover up the truth and use these images a way that could be considered potentially harmful, then, I would consider that misleading and morally incorrect. It may still be effective, though, if the photos were believed and the photographers desired outcome was achieved.
- Pickering, S. Public Order 2004. https://www.sarahpickering.co.uk/works/public-order/