Don McCullin at Tate Britain
b: 1935 London
The danger is with an exhibition this size devoted to a photographer best know for his work in war zones and other (to understate it) trouble spots is that the result becomes a relentless parade of atrocity porn and poverty porn. Despite occasional relief and the landscape and still life pieces at the end, that is what this show is about — Men's (for it is almost always men) inhumanity to men, women and children.
We should probably be grateful that these events have been documented and that McCullin took responsibility for visiting these abattoirs on our behalf: the least we can do is to attend the exhibition and see the outcome. Half way through there is a slide show of images, often in colour, from magazine covers and articles. This is watched in reverential or perhaps stunned silence by a seated audience of 50 or 100 people while others file past to the next room. All the hung exhibits are in black and white.
Now seems a good time to document some key war photographers.
Cyprus, 1964; Biafra, 1967;
South Vietnam, 1968
London, 1970; Northern Ireland, 1971
There is a striking symmetry between figs. 17 and 19: the insouciance of the British to their surroundings.
Northern England, 1960s-70s; Kurdistan, 1991
Fig. 20 is my favourite image in the show.