The exhibition will run through June 20, 2010.
As I travel, I love seeing the work of other photographers as I hope you do. If you know of a new photographic exhibition which you think the Blog should publicize, please contact me.Sarah Pickering’s photographs disturb our sense of security and illuminate the ways in which we cope with traumatic events that are beyond our control. Her pictures depict environments and events crafted specifically for simulated training to prepare police officers, firefighters, and soldiers for calamities ranging from fire and civil unrest to terrorism and war. By exposing the absurdity and controlled nature of these environments, Pickering’s images reveal our predilection to deflect fear by trying to anticipate and plan for it—and our tendency to create a story to help us process it.
Ultimately Pickering’s photographs raise questions about the efficacy of preparedness and hint at the psychological effort needed to combat and recover from trauma—the struggle to live with the anxiety that can accompany security. Pickering’s Fire Scene pictures (2007), made at the British Fire Service College, document containers outfitted as home environments and set on fire to train forensic teams and crime scene investigators. The interiors are staged as elaborate, crammed domestic spaces, deliberately heavy with a narrative: each fire has been designed according to a specific cause, such as an electric heater malfunctioning, or a glue-sniffing escapade gone wrong. The fire investigators must decipher the origin. Pickering photographs just as the fire catches, and there is a captivating beauty in the blaze and a thrilling quality in the danger and implied rescue it represents.