Joan Fontcuberta

“My work – I wouldn’t want to be pretentious – is pedagogic.  It’s a pedagogy of doubt, protecting us from the disease of manipulation.  We want to believe.  Believing is more comfortable because unbelieving implies effort, confrontation.  We passively receive a lot of information from TV, the media and the internet because we are reluctant to expend the energy needed to be sceptical.” — Joan Fontcuberta (Jeffries, 2014)

As part of the Digital Image and Culture coursework, I have been reading essays from Joan Fontcuberta’s book Pandora’s Camera.  Strangely though, I had never stopped to look at any of his photographs.  My tutor recommended looking at them after I completed assignment two, and from just a brief glance I was hooked.

The first series that I looked at was Fauna, which is supposedly a rediscovered archive of notes and photographs belonging to a German zoologist, Dr Peter Ameisenhaufen, who mysteriously disappeared in 1955 (Jeffries, 2014).  The series shows photographs of bizarre animals, including a snake with legs and a monkey with wings.  Obviously, the series is an elaborate hoax but it is presented by Fontcuberta as fact.

I love the way in which Fontcuberta, plays with the audience’s belief that photographs represent the “Truth”.  It is so cleverly done, that apparently a number of his projects have indeed fooled their audiences.  It is a valuable lesson about not just blindly accepting what is reported as fact.

References

Jeffries, S. (2014) Joan Fontcuberta: false negatives [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/jul/08/joan-fontcuberta-stranger-than-fiction. Accessed on 28/11/2016.