Media & Myth: Mass Media and the Vietnam War at FORMAT


I’m excited to announce that Media & Myth: Mass Media and the Vietnam War, a show I curated alongside Monica Alcazar-Duarte, is now on display at FORMAT Photography Festival, Derby.

Originally staged in London in October of last year, the show has been completely reconceived for the festival. Media & Myth consists of works by participants in London College of Communication’s NAM project, which explores the role of the media in conflict, with a particular emphasis on the Vietnam War. The outputs from this research project have included photography, video pieces, graphic design, and research essays, and the works included in the show touch on topics as diverse as soldier’s personal photography and underground magazine production. Media & Myth also includes material drawn from the Stanley Kubrick archive, which is housed at the London College of Communication and formed an important resource and reference point for many of the participants in the project. After spending several days at the archive looking through material we selected a number of fascinating images produced during the pre-production of Kubrick’s 1987 Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket.

Monica and I were both drawn to annotated photographs that formed part of the extensive visual research that was undertaken by Kubrick’s team to facilitate their transformation of Becton Gas Works in east-London into something resembling the destroyed Vietnamese city of Hue. As part of the process of transforming Becton, the art department would photocopy location photographs of the site, blowing them up to A3 sizes, and would then draw directly on to the photocopies in order to show what changes they might make to the buildings at the site to make them look more battle scarred or to make them look more like Vietnamese or French colonial architecture. We’re very pleased to have been given permission to reproduce some of these original photocopies and these are on display in the gallery. You can read a little more about our motivations for staging the original show here.

Sharing the same space as Media & Myth is another related exhibition, The Forensic Turn curated by Paul Lowe, which looks at how photographers have turned towards still life and a more forensic approach to document the aftermath of war and atrocity, while avoiding the traditional ethical pitfalls associated with this type of photography. The Forensic Turn features photographs by Simon Norfolk, Zijah Gafic, Edmund Clark, Ashley Gilbertson, and Fred Ramos.

Media & Myth is on display at FORMAT Festival, Derby from 13th March through to 13th April 2015. The exhibition is at 1 Corn Exchange, Albert Street, Derby and is marker number ‘21’ on the festival map available here. Monica and I will also be presenting a talk about the exhibition, the NAM project and about collaboration and curation as part of the ‘Reporting on War and Terror’ day of talks on Saturday 21st March. Tickets available here.

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