Monday, October 14, 2013

Fragility of witnessing – DEATH OF A CAMERAMAN at apexart

Exploring the fragility of the relationship between image making and its effects, Death of a Cameraman offers a curatorial exploration of such a relation in the case of amateur videos and pictures flooding the web since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. The idea of the exhibition started when the curator Martin Waldmeier saw a video on YouTube, now displayed on a cellphone at the gallery’s entrance: someone is filming gunfire from a balcony; a sniper locates him and shoots him; the amateur cameraman falls, his cellphone and the image collapse with him.

Featuring five works by Boomberg & Chanarin, Harun Farocki, Rabih Mroué, Hrair Sarkissian and Rudolf Steiner, the exhibition explores the possible annihilation of public when bombarded by recurring images of violence. After recalling the subject to the spectator with the cellphone video, the curator set a space with pictures, followed by a smaller space with two videos and a picture installation. The procession in the gallery allows the viewers to first question and examine still images before being directly involved into video works.

The timing of the show is perfect: with more than two years of conflict in Syria, the public seems to have progressively disengaged, interested more in the morbidity than in the reality of the risk people take by making images of the confrontation. The exhibition is then a way to recall how pictures or videos not only capture a moment; they are also the result of someone’s choice. This is what Mroué explores in Shooting images (2012). The artist uses the deconstruction of images from a literal stance: reenacting the same video that originated the idea of the exhibition, the artist is analyzing the point of view of the cameraman, the gunman and the spectator. Mroué is offering the viewer an occasion to replace oneself in the process of image making as the artist fuses the point of view of the gunman and of the victim by embodying both of them. The confusion leads the spectator to realize the multiple perspectives possible on one image and the power of its interpretation.


  1. I am really curious about what images you are talking about. There is a lot of reference to images, but since the show had quite a few groups of different images I’m not sure which ones you are talking about throughout the review. In this case I would probably narrow my focus on 1 or two images or groups of images to make your analysis more clear. Also, quite a few times you are telling the reader what the pieces are intending to do or what purpose they are fulfilling but at the same time you don’t provide any proof (for example of a specific visual frame or a specific fragment or image).

  2. Your review serves as a good summary of the exhibition's conceptual background. However, it gives no indication of the show's physical presentation or the individual works themselves. If anything, your review is a critique of the curator rather than a critique of the artists and the work presented in the gallery. While it is relevant to critique a show's curation, I think that you could focus on the individual pieces to a greater extent to allow the reader to imagine the exhibition space and the impact of each individual artwork.