From Truth to Interpretation: Political and Experimental Documentary Practice


The Political and the Aesthetic

There is no truth to an image, only an interpretation, based on subjectivity. Interpretation relies on a consideration of both art and politics.

Art –> Aesthetics –> Beauty/taste

Art is to be made as information (according to conceptualism).

Information –> Ideas (conceptions) –> Politics (ideologies)

Alfredo Jaar – “Images are not innocent”

The Political and the Aesthetic

“This work of art is political”

“This work of art is not political”

“This work is aesthetic”

“This work is aesthetic” (subjective meaninglessness) It may or may not be beautiful to you.

If more than one person thinks something is beautiful, taste becomes plural. If more than one person agrees on something it becomes political.

A Very Short History of the Judgment of Taste

Up to Duchamp (1913): “Is this beautiful?”

Duchamp – Conceptualism (1913 – 1960s): “Is this art?”

Conceptualism – 1999: “Is it aesthetic or political? Is it both? How do they work together?”

Now what is the relationship between the aesthetic and the political?

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin


Louisiana Channel Video

Alfredo Jaar – ‘Images are not innocent’

  • presents an ideological conception of the world.

‘The Wonder Project

Time Magazine

Weekend Magazine

Average time for a person to look at an image in a museum is three seconds

(representation without meaning)

‘If its not political or engages to the world, its not art, its decoration’

Information -> Ideas

Ariella Azoulay – Civil Imagination

You might think an image is beautiful, but not everyone will agree.

If more than one person thinks a picture is beautiful, you can take it more seriously.

Moved from ‘this is beautiful’ to ‘this is art’

Richard Masse

  • thousands are sailing ‘makes visible the unseeble’
  • black and white is closer to the truth.. than pink.. war

mosse_1 richard-mosse-4