Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Posts Tagged ‘reportage

The Battle of Waterloo, its re-enactment, and some images of it

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As mentioned in my previous post I went to a re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo on the weekend. Here are some of the other images. Rather bizarrely (and annoyingly) the aesthetic and the idea that I had for some of the project run closely parallel to the work of another photographer who has only just been unearthed to me. Not ideal at all. I need to go back to the drawing board and re-arrange my thoughts perhaps…

(yep I realise that there is some dust on my sensor too – haven’t had a chance to cleanse the images yet!)

'max colson' 'historical re-enactment' '94th regiment of the foote' 'old scotch brigade' waterloo deserters

Some deserters

'max colson' 'historical re-enactment' waterloo 'calvary charge' calvary

Napoleon's cavalry charge the English

'max colson' 'historical re-enactment' waterloo 'old scotch brigade' '94th regiment of the foote'

Skirmish in the forest

'max colson' 'historical re-enactment' waterloo napoleonic general

Senior officer from Napoleon's army

'max colson' 'historical re-enactment' waterloo napoleonic general

Peering into the dark

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Simon Norfolk at the Tate Modern (a Tate video)

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Bullet-scarred outdoor cinema at the Palace of Culture in the Karte Char district of Kabul - Simon Norfolk

Bullet-scarred outdoor cinema at the Palace of Culture in the Karte Char district of Kabul, 2002, Simon Norfolk

“I’m trying to photograph my disappointment. When I came [to Afghanistan] in 2001 I was angry with what the Americans had done, I thought it was a mistake…Ten sorry miserable years have gone by, half a trillion dollars have been spent on this country and it looks worse than it was…It’s a disappointment of ten years of warfare. Tens of thousands of Afghans murdered. Lots of Americans and Europeans killed as well. Billions wasted and nothing achieved: nothing, nothing, nothing achieved…” – Simon Norfolk

If you’re reading this in the UK you may have seen that the Guardian did a big feature on Simon Norfolk’s new Afghanistan photographs and their relation to John Burke’s Afghanistan photography in the Weekend magazine a couple of weeks ago. Personally I think Simon Norfolk is easily one of the most important photographers around right now (and if you don’t agree with that then you must agree regarding photojournalism at least).

Here is a 17 minute video produced by the Tate in advance of his exhibition of new work at the Tate Modern which is entitled, Burke + Norfolk: Photographs From The War In Afghanistan. Working on the understanding that Afghanistan has been the location of an imperalist intrusion for many decades Norfolk has produced a collection of photographs which link the current war with those from its past and asks the powerful question (amongst others): What has changed?

Narrated by the artist himself this video explains the work, puts the current Afghanistan war in the context of the country’s war torn history, and likens  the “billion pictures per hour” photojournalism that is pouring out of the country right now to a “sewer pipe with a crack in the side of it”. He also  comments that “beauty is a useful tool.” He then says lots more.

This is rational, conscious, and incisively critical photography of the highest order. Really, really worth watching.

Diary – Tim Hetherington

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I’ve watched Tim Hetherington’s Diary a couple of times now and it’s really made me aware of what a loss his death was. There are obviously many war reporters on the front line and in the thick of things, but it’s rare to find a reporter who felt that it was worth making a statement about their subjectivity by publicly questioning their own practice. His sensibility is a massive loss.

Tim Hetherington – Diary

Written by Max Colson

May 2, 2011 at 9:44 am

Got some photos exhibited up norf

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(my images are the four along the top)

I had a nice piece of news the other day when I was told by Side Gallery up in Newcastle that they had decided to include four of my photographs from my Light Data series in their current exhibition on protest photography. It’s called A Luta Continua [Trans: The Struggle Continues]. As it’s all the way up norf I haven’t actually seen my photographs in situ proper as of yet, but I will be going up in May. Presenting work by established photographers alongside citizen journalism of recent protest events (ie me & other newer photographers), the exhibition attempts to place protest photography in history and document (& question) its development as a reporting method. To quote Side Gallery’s website:

“Who documents history? Why do they record events? For whom do they risk their livelihoods or lives in doing so? These are subjects of change and evolution: it is no longer the exclusive territory of a (usually) white Western male photojournalist to tell it as it is . The making of the news, the telling of the news and the interpretation of the news, are becoming activities in which all of us are involved. This is not without its inherent problems: it is just as easy to lie, or to misinform, as it is to champion the truth through our ever inter-related techno-driven world. Then there is the question of quality, partiality and impartiality: are the representations of the professional journalist more honest, valuable or insightful than those of the citizen journalist.”


I’m thoroughly aware of the limitations of the photographs that I made of the protests against the rises in UK university fees in late 2010. My lacklustre planning and foresight meant that the only images that I took where at the protests themselves and so did not place the visuals I had made of  fire, (inevitable) chaos, and (justified) anger in context at all. As a future warning to myself I wanted to use the photos to make an essay that really demonstrates how a group of images, taken without proper consideration, can be potentially really skew one’s impression of an event and the people involved. I’ve now put those images together into an essay called ‘Light Data’. I think it compliments the angle that Side Gallery decided to take in their recent exhibition. Check it out and let me know what you think.

On another note the gallery has recently just lost all of its arts council funding which is pretty serious. It’s a really old institution (opened in 1977) and is the only gallery in the country which is fully dedicated to documentary photography. As this is obviously quite an awful thing please sign their petition to get the Arts Council to recognise that they have made an immense, immense mistake

Enjoy Poverty – Renzo Martens

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A man goes into the Congo and makes a documentary that attacks aid organisations, photojournalists, and politicians for making money out of the suffering of the poor. What’s hard to chew is that he intentionally uses the poor to make this point. The eventually culminates in Martens getting a village to construct his ‘Enjoy Poverty’ neon light display, so he can video tape the event for his documentary. Making your skin crawl yet?

It’s uncomfortable viewing to say the least, but everytime I watch Martens’ Episode III: Enjoy Poverty feel that there is little else out there that is challenging the genre of reportage in this way.

Written by Max Colson

February 4, 2011 at 10:14 am