DCB: Finally, David Toop concludes the exhibition booklet with a piece of text, and Rupert Cox and Angus Carlyle also contributed one, therefore completing a triangle of sorts: photography, sound and writing come together to present something more sensorially tangible, perhaps even complete, in the way we might consider the exhibition’s key themes of “ the real”, architecture and modern conflict. Can you perhaps make a comment on the relationship of writing to photography and conflict, and indeed sound?

CS & ET: Martha Rosler summed up the limitations of autonomous representation in the title of her work The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems in 1974/5, where she was referring to both the photographic image and writing. Within a short space of time we also saw the publication of Sontag’s On Photography and Craig Owens’ two part essay The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism and really all these critical texts were deconstructing the notion of the autonomy of the work of art and more pointedly the humanist documentary photograph.

“ …sound, however, added the necessary element of violence, the sharp reminder that appointments must be kept, responsibilities must be fulfilled and the observations of ritual will prevail” – David Toop

Whilst we’re not as weighed down with those questions in the way that we perhaps once were, there is quite a nice relationship that emerged in putting the exhibition together between photography, sound and writing and how they allow each other to be what they are – sometimes more objective and then sometimes more of a personal narrative, particularly with the texts. Ultimately all representation is inadequate in terms of its relationship to the real experience of conflict but in dialogue the works here come at the themes in different ways, hopefully without overly compromising each other.


Curated by Christopher Stewart and Esther Teichmann, the exhibition was supported by Karin Askham, Dean of the School of Media, London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. The exhibition, designed by Studio Hato, took place alongside the release of a new book, Staging Disorder, through Black Dog Publishing, which contains writing by Christopher Stewart, Alexandra Stara, David Campany, Jennifer Good, Adam Jasper, Howard Caygill and Esther Teichmann, alongside work by the exhibiting photographers.