Richard Billingham [notes pt 2]

After shock: The Ethics of Contemporary Transgressive Art. Kieran Cashell 

Cashell, K., (2009). After Shock: The Ethics of Contemporary Trangressive Art. [online]. London: I.B.Tauris & Co. Available from:  [Accessed on 11th December 2015, at 10:58.]

“Viewing the images in Rays a Laugh does raise legitimate concern that they encourage the adoption of the voyeuristic perspective we have associated with the tourist.”
The series Rays a Laugh can cause concern that there is encouragement to adopt a voyeuristic perspective. As a viewer we are interested because it’s a life we haven’t experienced. The series is almost like a drama, the narrative is intense, and we want to know what happens next, we become attached to the characters.
But Billingham himself is a part of the environment he captures, so it cant be seen as voyeuristic as this is his life, what he experiences everyday.
“the connotations of the photographs suggest…that the photographer is himself implicated as an integral and indispensable part of the social environment that his images document.” pg 22

“One might notice that Billingham chose to photograph the old man and then publish the photograph, rather than immediately picking him up and cleaning him off. One might ask why he chose to do that, and what it implies.” Lewis
We could question why Billingham chose to photograph distressing moments and then publish them rather than helping the situation. Why did he chose to do that, what does this imply? pg 23

This sort of situation is a part of Billingham’s daily life. Maybe years ago he would help his father, but helping him may been seen as pointless now. Maybe his father didn’t want help? You wont know unless you’re in that situation. Possibly compare to a documentary perspective. What are the ethics behind intervening with what you’re documenting. Is it different within the context of family.

“Ray’s a Laugh is essentially an unedited documentary footage.” pg 24

“How can it be that art so formally substandard can yet be so artistically compelling?”

“However, the reason why his work is so formally bad…Rather the key to the formal awkwardness is to be found in Billingham’s desire to render the medium as transparent as possible, to reduce the anaesthetising effects of form and make the images more immediate, more visceral, more violent.”

“To look at these images is to feel something for the situation and people in it that is morally right to feel: concern, compassion, sympathy, pity, shame, guilt.” pg 25



 (more research?)


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