Truth, lies and geopolitics: Photo Op by kennardphillipps

Jonathan Jones has written a short article for The Guardian about kennardphillipps’ work Photo Op, which is on display at the moment as part of Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War at IWM North. For what it’s worth, I read the comments below the line, and many of them dwell on the question of truth and lies, in relation to Tony Blair, the Iraq war and the work itself, bringing to mind the following:

We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his [sic] lies. If he only shows in his work that he has searched, and re-searched, for the way to put over lies, he would never accomplish anything.

Pablo Picasso (1923)

(quote via Austin Kleon at

To me this speaks not just to the work of artists like kennardphillipps and other well known photomonteurs such as John Heartfield and Martha Rosler who are concerned to reveal and shock but also to the aesthetic constitution of politics itself. Picasso’s words might apply equally to the construction of the ‘case’ for the Iraq war or the personae of the politicians who set it in motion. In that sense, Photo Op is not just ‘about’ the war, but might equally be regarded as part of the struggle over what counts as the political reality and truth of it. As violence in Iraq approaches levels not seen since the worst of 2006 and 2007, with more than six thousand people killed this year according to the UN, the war can hardly be regarded as over.


One thought on “Truth, lies and geopolitics: Photo Op by kennardphillipps

  1. Reblogged this on rhulgeopolitics and commented:
    Alan Ingram on Photo Op by kennardphillipps. As a quick plug we’re organising a Creativity and Geopolitics mini-workshop on the 3rd of December to coincide with a few things at RHUL’s base in Bedford Square, central london. More on that very soon.

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