Late photography, military landscapes, and the politics of memory

Simon Faulkner


This essay considers the photographic genre of ‘late photography’ that has emerged roughly over the last two decades. Late photographs picture material remains left in the aftermath of events that often involve forms of violence. These photographs are usually high in detail, but formally simple, framing aftermath sites in ways that suggest the reservation of judgement and commentary upon the things they picture. This gives the impression that such photographs are intended to distance the spectator from the political meanings of the events or situations to which they refer. The discussion presented in the essay suggests that it is this apparent distancing from the political that opens up possibilities for the imaginative rethinking of how the past might function in relation to the politics of the present. The essay explores these concerns through the discussion of photographs by Simon Norfolk, Angus Boulton, Gilad Ophir and Roi Kuper, in relation to two historical and political contexts: the Cold War, considered briefly in relation to Boulton’s work and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, considered more extensively in relation to the work of Norfolk, Ophir, and Kuper.


late photography, military landscape, politics, memory, Cold War, Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Full text: Faulkner_p.121-136 (PDF, 1,646 KB)


Biographical note

Simon Faulkner is the programme leader in art history at Manchester Metropolitan University. His current research is focussed on relationships between visual representation and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This research has involved collaborative work with visual practitioners, for example, Between States, a book developed with the Israeli artist David Reeb, will be published in late 2014. He is also a co-investigator on ‘Picturing the Social’, an ESRC-funded research project on social media images.

An earlier version of this material was presented on the occasion of the project conference ‘Disturbing Pasts: Memories, Controversies and Creativity’ (20 -22 November 2012, Museum of Ethnology/Weltmuseum Wien, Vienna).