Aspex Portsmouth

In A Right State, Graham Budgett, John Heartfield and Peter Kennard

In this exhibition from Camerawork in London, In A Right State compared three ways of challenging state power through constructed photographs. The exhibition included a first-time showing in Britain the work of Graham Budgett, a Berlin-based artist, who presented a series of constructed cibachrome photographs in A Brief US History. These are juxtaposed with a series of anti-Hitler photomontages by John Heartfield from the 1930’s, and an installation on Thatcher’s Britain by Peter Kennard.

Graham Budgett’s fabricated images within A Brief US History have been constructed by combining models, found images, words and drawing with light. Accompanying texts are designed to ensure that meanings of the images cannot be mistaken.

In contrast, Peter Kennard’s photomontages are constructed in the tradition of Heartfield. They examine issues of particular concern in an election year – the rise of security state, the nuclear state and Star Wars, the erosion of the welfare state, the rise of the City and multi-national corporations – in which photographs were stacked on wire fencing.

Heartfield’s work adds a historical note to the exhibition, and its juxtaposition with contemporary work raises many issues: whether a photomontage approach that was shocking in the thirties was still relevant, and whether such work can allow us to ‘see through’ official truths/lies.

An accompanying exhibition guide includes text by David Evans, who is co-author of ‘Photo-montage: A Political Weapon’.