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Dear Truth: Documentary Strategies in Contemporary Photography
Kerstin Hamilton

Dear truth

Dear truthDear Truth: Documentary Strategies in Contemporary Photography
Issue Spring 2021
Kerstin Hamilton
Hasselblad Centre

Contributing artists Mathieu Asselin, Kerstin Hamilton, Frida Orupabo, Lara Baladi, Laia Abril, Karlsson Rixon, Bouchra Khalili, Taryn Simon and Trevor Paglen.


19 Pages
365 x 570 mm
ISBN Not Available


About the Exhibition
The times we live in have been characterised as a period of post-truth – one in which fact-based truths are often replaced by so-called alternative facts. Emotions and personal beliefs are used to sway public opinion at the expense of science-based arguments.

In photography, objectivity and truth have been debated since the 1980s, and the once widespread idea of photography as a neutral representation has been discredited. Portraying other people’s lives is challenging and there is the constant risk of exoticisation and exploitation. Documentary photography has therefore long been subject to criticism, but in the last twenty years, the field has undergone a change. Today, photo-based artists are approaching social issues with new strategies and an awareness of their own role in forming narratives.

This exhibition explores how nine contemporary artists approach ideas of truth, facts, and objectivity, and how they – guided by ethical reflections – make urgent matters visible. Their work portrays some of the most challenging issues of our time: human rights, the environment, democracy, migration, technology, and violence. The projects are rooted in social realities – but they do not attempt to represent reality. The artists step into the world, turn to archives, and nuance established views. Here, the truth plays a central part – not as an authoritarian or neutral vision, but as a starting point for socially engaged contemporary art.

About the Curator
Kerstin Hamilton is an artist and artistic researcher. Her PhD research project The Objectivity Laboratory: Propositions on Documentary Photography explored how materialities and processes are visualized using a camera, exploring the photographer’s reach both physically and ethically. With the aim of proposing how to move beyond some of the more incapacitating aspects of representational critique, it approached the concept of “situated objectivity” as a form of ethical, empathic and engaged objectivity. The research maps experimental approaches within contemporary documentary photography and discusses the relation between documentary, photography, post-truth politics and ethics.

In her art and research, Hamilton has explored the connections between the natural sciences and the field of photography: using the laboratory both physically and as a symbol, the image’s relation to reality is considered. Main outcomes of her work carried out in nanotechnology laboratories are the film Zero Point Energy (2016) which was part of The New Human exhibition at Moderna Museet in Stockholm and Malmö and the two image/text/installation based artworks The Science Question in Feminism (2018) and A World Made by Science (2018) made for the 2018 Riga Biennal Of Contemporary Art. Her work has also been presented at the Riga International Biennial of Art (RIBOCA), Fotohof in Salzburg, Art Initiative, Stockholm School of Economics and Chalmers University of Technology among other venues.

Hamilton is the curator of the exhibition Dear Truth: Documentary Strategies in Contemporary Photography at Hasselblad Center. The exhibition investigated how artists approach complex social and political realities in times of post-truth. Photography is in the exhibition applied as an experimental, inclusive and expanded medium. The exhibition presented artist’s works that insist upon the importance of seeing, knowing and reacting to the complexities and disorders characteristic of our time.

About the Publisher
The Hasselblad Foundation is a unique platform for photography in the Nordic region. The photographic research and exhibitions complement each other and are closely tied through publications as well as frequent symposiums. The Hasselblad Center is located in the Göteborg Museum of Art.

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