The time from August to October 2014 marks the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. LFI have collaborated with the University of Hamburg, the Regional Agency for Civic Education in Hamburg and the Warsaw Rising Museum in Warsaw to create a historical-photographic touring exhibition: On Both Side of the Barricades – Photography and War Reporting during the Warsaw Uprising 1944 opens in Hamburg on 1 October 2014, with plans for future presentations in Warsaw and Chicago.
To begin with, the project takes a critical look at how the Uprising was represented at the time by both German and Polish press. Yet it also spans an arc into the present day, where mobile phone cameras and social networks allow for simultaneous reports of armed conflicts to be instantly distributed on an unprecedented scale.
This however makes it increasingly challenging to classify images correctly, and to differentiate between documentation and propaganda. One part of the exhibition, which was created together with Public History students of Hamburg University, therefore aims to draw especially younger people's attention to vital (yet often neglected) questions such as: Who created this image, and what was their intention? Where and in which context was it published, and to what purpose? What is being shown, and what has been omitted?
The content of a photograph is easy to manipulate, be it through the use of deliberately staged scenes, by technical means or by placing the image in a false context. Only a thorough analysis of these questions will make it possible to develop an aware and discerning understanding of the use of photographs in (war) reporting – the nature of which has in fact barely changed for the past 70 years.
Image sources: Warsaw Rising Museum