"Sarah Pickering's photographs jar our sense of security and illuminate the ways in which we cope with traumatic events that are beyond our control... Ultimately Pickering's photographs raise questions about the efficacy of preparedness and hint at the psycological effort needed to combat and recover from trauma--the struggle to live with the anxiety, the invisible violence, that accompanies security."
Karen Irvine, excerpted from the catalog essay, "Incident Control" published in Sarah Pickering: Explosions, Fires and Public Order.
Sarah Pickering (born in Durham City, England, 1972) finished her MA in photography at Royal College of Art in London in 2005. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Photographers’ Gallery Graduate Award and a Jerwood Award. She has exhibited internationally and in the U.K. where her work was part of How We Are: Photographing Britain, at Tate Britain. Pickering is represented by Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York. She lives in London.
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Sarah Pickering: Explosions, Fires and Public Order Text by Karen Irvine. UK photographer Sarah Pickering's Explosions, Fires and Public Order is a visually arresting glimpse into the secret world of civil defense. Combining four series, the book begins with Public Order, a
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Featured image is "Smoke Burst," 2004, published in Sarah Pickering: Explosions, Fires and Public Order. Essayist Karen Irvine writes, "For her Explosion (2004-present) photographs, Pickering went to sites where fake bombs are deployed for military personnel, and for movie executives who are interested in buying pyrotechnics… The Explosion pictures document the literal theater of war—the detailed level of artifice used to prepare men and women for combat on the front lines. They also reveal the minutiae of packaging war as entertainment."
Text by Karen Irvine.
Published by Aperture
UK photographer Sarah Pickering's Explosions, Fires and Public Order is a visually arresting glimpse into the secret world of civil defense. Combining four series, the book begins with Public Order, a project exploring the Metropolitan Police Public Order Training Centre, a simulated urban environment near London where officers rehearse responses to imagined scenarios of civic unrest. The Explosions series documents the tactical use of controlled explosions by the British military, designed to add realistic stress to training exercises and familiarize soldiers with various munitions. Fire Series and Incident, Pickering's most recent series, were produced while she was an artist in residence at the UK Fire Training College. While there, she photographed blazes that were set inside meticulously and elaborately constructed home interiors, as well as the stark, charred remnants of fake urban settings after the scenario fires had been put out. Pickering's projects reflect an aspect of the current zeitgeist: global terrorism matched with omnipresent anxiety. "My work explores the idea of imagined threat and response, and looks at fear and planning for the unexpected, merging fact and fiction, fantasy and reality."
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