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Megan Maguire


Value and Context

Value and Context is a work that explores collage and photomontage as a three-dimensional form. This experimentation depicts three-dimensional cut outs of figures from photojournalism and advertising segments in National Geographic Magazine’s which are presented together to form an installation. This work stems from an awareness of the incongruous relationship between the locations and subject matter of the photojournalism and the products advertised in the magazine. Each figure in the installation is stabilised using coins as a means of referencing forms of capital that are features of the magazine, monetary capital, cultural capital, and pictorial capital. This collection of images forms a subtle relationship between the images and the actions of the characters they depict.

These figures are also reminders of the complications within photojournalism and documentary photography. Photojournalism and documentary photography is deeply submerged within the history of colonialism and dehumanising processes. Representing indigenous people in problematic ways, devaluing, or dismissing the value of these cultures. Contemporary documentary photography and photojournalism practices are still struggling with the fine line between realist representations and the ramifications of the racist, colonial, imperial tactics of the past, problems which hinder the power imbalance in documentary photography between the photographer, subject and image audience. Documentary photographers tend to be privileged (financially) and white. The conditions to allow access to this profession and photojournalism are often not made available to a non- white, non-Western person. The documentary photographer rarely mirrors the faces of those they photograph. The photographers often come from the same white privileged imperialist nations who are the same people who are mostly responsible for the plights of the photographed subjects.

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