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Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera at Tate Modern

Juxtapoz // Friday, 28 May 2010
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Weegee_-Arthur_H_Fellig_-_Palace_Theatre_c1940

Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera

Tate Modern Museum, London

Words by Leah Borromeo

 

An exhibition intended to open discussion about surveillance and the gaze, Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera opens this week at London’s Tate Modern. The show explores themes of eroticism, celebrity, violence and security in the world around us. Over 250 works have been selected by Tate Modern in conjunction with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.


“Human hunger for seeing the forbidden has not changed,” says curator Sandra Phillips from SFMOMA. “This show explores invasion and the rules of privacy.”

 

Its curators concede that words used in photography are also used in hunting. Capture. Shoot. Release. Like a hunter, a photographer either sneaks up on prey or chases after it. The strength in Walker Evans’ composition lies not only in a clever use of thirds, but in his covert methods. Nobody knows their photos are being taken candidly. Yale Joel photographed people as they arranged themselves in a one-way mirror – spying on people going about the everyday and capturing them at their most vain. Some people made a television programme based on that idea, franchised it and called it Big Brother.

 

Exposed is an intelligent and informed show. Everywhere you go in the exhibition, you cannot escape what artyfarts call “the gaze”. If you feel dirty viewing Gilles Peress’ images of the Rwandan Genocide, you should. If you’re captivated by Merry Alpern’s sneaked shots through a bordello’s window, brilliant. The show is showcasing the theft of privacy and questions the basic notion of privacy. You should walk out of it feeling like a thieving pervert. What steals your soul isn’t the act of photography, but consuming the image and walking away without considering it. You ask yourself at what point does nosiness and prying become art? At what point does the documentation of death and oppression become pornography?

 

Surveillance is a “functional image taken with purposeful intent”. As you walk around the show, look up. Find one of the five million CCTV cameras in the UK gazing at you with impassive regard. Then see if you can view the show with your new, more complicit eyes.

Garry_Winogrand_-_New_York_1969
Garry Winogrand - New York 1969

Harry_Callahan_Atlanta_1984
Harry Callahan - Atlanta 1984

Morris_Engel_-_Shoeshine_Boy_with_Cop_1947
Morris Engel - Shoeshine Boy with Cop 1947

Shizuka_Yokomizo_Stranger_No_1_1998
Shizuka Yokomizo - Stranger No. 1 1998

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Chris Verene - Untitled (Red Back) 1997

Larry_Clark_-_Untitled_from_the_portfolio_Tulsa_1971_
Larry Clark - Untitled from the portfolio Tulsa 1971

Untitled_from_the_series_The_Park_1971
Untitled from the series The Park 1971

_John_Goodman_-_Tremont_Street_no3_Boston_1978
John Goodman - Tremont Street #3 Boston 1978

Susan_Meiselas_-_Pandoras_Box_Security_TV_I
Susan Meiselas - Pandoras Box Security TV I

Jonathan_Olley_Golf_Five_Zero
Jonathan Olley - Golf Five Zero

Alison_Jackson_-_Queen_playing_with_the_corgis_2005
Alison Jackson - Queen playing with the corgis 2005

Weegee_Marilyn_Monroe_c1950s
Weegee - Marilyn Monroe c.1950s

Marcello_Geppetti_-_Elizabeth_Taylor_and_Richard_Burt
Marcello Geppetti - Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burt

 

Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera

Tate Modern, London

May 28 - October 3, 2010

 

 

 


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