Photography as Contested Evidence

Essays by Charles Heller and Susan Schuppli
Photoworks 17, issue on photography as contested evidence

The failure of the US government to release photographs of the dead body of Osama Bin Laden quickly generated a range of responses. While aspects of the US government and the media looked to identify surrogate images, conspiracy theories circulated online, and critics pointed to the fundamental mismanagement of the situation. When considered in the light of photography and its applications, the situation provides a clear demonstration of the continued social and political influence exerted by photographs within contemporary culture.

Taking its lead from this controversy, issue seventeen of Photoworks focuses on photography as a form of contested evidence. What types of evidential role are photographs afforded? How do we determine this status? How has it been challenged by artists and writers? What role has changing technology played within these debates? In what circumstances can unreliable witnesses be trusted? The issue continues Photoworks commitment to critically examining an expansive social photographic landscape, opening dialogues between photography’s various and contested uses.

Contributions include:
Charles Heller on the legal definitions of photography as evidence
Susan Schuppli on images from Chernobyl

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