Ann Shelton, 2020
How do ideas relating to ‘The Truth’ factor into your practice?
My first career as a press photographer catalysed my interest in the malevolent capacity of photography to obscure, misrepresent, confuse, or mask the truth. This early career on a national New Zealand newspaper only sought to deeply complicate the medium for me. As a result, I decided to quit and go to art school. Being a photojournalist generated a myriad of questions around photography for me, around notions of truth: whose truth, which truth, who gets to tell their truth, how is the telling of a truth a mechanism of power and dominance etc?
Early on in my artistic trajectory I was very interested in the genre of documentary photography and how it can intersect with a photographic practice driven by ideas. A lot of my artistic production in the first 20 years of my career can be contextualised, on one level, as a critique of documentary photography’s claimed objectivity. You can see my art practice as marked by a shift away from what Henri Cartier Bresson called the ‘decisive moment’ (Bresson wanted all the visual elements in an image to be lined up and perfectly positioned in order to tell the story or provide all the relevant information) and a move towards examining how ideas and concepts circulate through and with images. Then leading on from that, an examination of how images can be opened up to multiple possibilities, meanings and positions.