Beyond Photojournalism: Constraints and Contradictions in Hostile Environments

  • Yannis Kontos

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    My doctoral thesis examines the function of photography and the performance of photographers working under restricted circumstances, by focusing on the controversies they have to handle in a hostile environment. In particular, by thoroughly studying the case of North Korea I concentrate on the impacts of
    censorship and self-censorship and the capability of a photographer to pursue and fulfil his/her goal. Moreover, my practice-led PhD thesis incorporates an original series of my photographs from North Korea and Malaysia, which validate my main research question which concerns how context interacts with the photojournalist's situational work.

    By means of case studies of key exhibitions about North Korea, the Iraq war, photojournalism and art, I compare my work against that of widely recognized photographers, both photojournalists and art photographers, and I examine the question whether photographs still retain any meaning if their message is
    abstracted and obscured by disconnection and distance? Further, in juxtaposing North Korea with other contexts -hostile or not- as Iraq and Malaysia, I describe the various constraints that restrict photographers' work.

    Based on my experience as a war photographer, I examine associations between photojournalism and art photography and I treat the question whether aesthetic concerns compromise ethical or journalistic content.

    My research concludes that there is a space between the two genres art and photojournalism that, without loosing its accurate political meaning and sense of responsibility, manages to combine photojournalism's humanistic core values with a more distant aesthetic approach; this is the space that I call "Beyond Photojournalism" and where, after my shift towards aesthetics, I position my present work.
    Date of AwardApr 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMark Durden (Supervisor) & Ian Walker (Supervisor)

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