Whether the camera “lies” or not doesn’t make Tate Modern’s new exhibition of surreptitious photography any less arrestingby Nigel Warburton / May 25, 2010 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2010 issue of Prospect Magazine
Caught unawares: from Philip-Lorcia diCorcia’s Heads
Photographic theory is packed with clichés: “the medium is essentially voyeuristic,” “the camera can lie” or even “the camera always lies.” But there is only so much philosophising anyone can take. And fortunately, as the 250 pictures in Tate Modern’s “Exposed” exhibition (which runs from 28th May to 3rd October) show, the images themselves are usually more interesting and unsettling than any theory spun about them.
“Exposed” is subtitled “voyeurism, surveillance and the camera,” and its theme is images taken without the explicit permission of their subjects. Organised in five sections—The Unseen Photographer, Voyeurism and Desire, Celebrity and the Public Gaze, Witnessing Violence, and Surveillance—the show ranges from the late 19th century to the present and shuffles famous images alongside the works of anonymous and less-well-known photographers. The result is an arresting visual commentary on relationships of power and pleasure.