Paul Seawright – some further study and reflection

I have now had a chance to look in more detail at the work of Paul Seawright. His work is simultaneously challenging and engaging. His work does take some reading, he takes a particular standpoint on conflict, almost certainly informed by his insider view of conflict growing up in Belfast. I can connect with the messages he is conveying about conflict and how we view it for quite personal reasons. I find his take on the world increasingly powerful. I also found an excellent online lecture that he gave in 2010 at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, he provides real insight to his motives and technique and I understand his work more completely having watched this. Although he does not use the term ‘Punctum’* in the talk I think I understand this concept more having watched this lecture. He frequently refers to the salient point of the image ‘puncturing’ the photograph. The lecture also encouraged me to think about three key area:

Finding your voice

Finding your subject

Constructing meaning

I need to consider what all of this means for the work I produce, which to date does not speak coherently or loudly  enough about the messages I want to convey!

* Rolands Barthes term Punctum: ‘A photographs Punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruised me, is poignant to me)’  pp27 in Barthe, R. (1980) Camera Lucida, Vintage Classics, London

The online lecture can be found here:

The commentary below was supplied with the lecture:

‘Paul Seawright, Voice Our Concern Artist’s Lecture 2010′ is a 40 minute illustrated artists lecture by the artist photographer Paul Seawright given in the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in November 2010. Paul talks about the use of photography in conflict situations as often being unreliable and how his work as a photographic artist is a response to this. He presents photographs from the Crimean war and discusses the influence of photographer Paul Graham on his work. He describes the difference between photo journalism and art in the context of artists defining their subjects and in the construction of meaning. He goes on to discuss and present examples of his Sectarian Murder Work series. This Voice Our Concern lecture was a joint project organised by IMMA and Amnesty International Ireland.’

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