Cruel & Tender: Pt 1

The title for the third & final task for this term’s unit is “Cruel & Tender”.

For this this location-based project, I should:

  • Research other photographers’ work & plan my own shooting.
  • Mind map the initial approach to the topic.
  • Show through the evaluation & analysis of the research, how this has helped & influence my own ideas.

The interpretation of the theme should reflect my individual way of working. I also have to produce 5 to 10 images.

Ok where to start…

The original Cruel & Tender was a photographic exhibition held at Tate Modern in 2003. The photographers chosen are, according to the description on the Tate Modern’s website:

“united by this sense of ‘tender cruelty’, an oscillation between engagement and estrangement in their work. The result is a type of photographic realism that avoids nostalgia, romanticism, or sentimentality in favour of clear-eyed observation.”

The photographers featured in the exhibition included some I’m already familiar with such as August Sander, Robert Frank, William Eggleston, Bernd & Hilda Becher, Diane Arbus & Martin Parr.

August Sander

Robert Frank

William Eggleston

Bernd & Hilla Becher

Diane Arbus

Martin Parr

There were also I’ve not heard of & need further investigation. I haven’t so far seen the book from the exhibition itself, but I found a very useful Teacher & Group Leaders’ Kit on the Tate Website. It has quite a bit of information about the exhibiting photographers. This kit also has some background information on how they’ve been grouped with practical ideas on how to view them.

One of the other photographers is Fazal Sheikh, who ‘approaches his Somali subjects with a full historical awareness of the legacies of colonial photography and charity advertising.’

Sheikh’s method was to treat his subjects as individuals, spending weeks living in Kenyan refugee camps before taking the photographs. He identifies them by name & writes texts explaining the political circumstances in which they were forced to leave their home.

Certainly lots to get my creative juices flowing. Have an initial idea in mind… time to investigate.

Criteria Ref: P1.


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