Sarah Pickering (°1972, Durham, UK) is one of the most prominent young British photographers today. Her work has been exhibited in places such as Tate Britain (How We Are: Photographing Britain), the Galleria Civica di Modena in Italy (In Our World: New Photography in Britain) or in the permanent exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She won the Peter S. Foundation Award in 2008 and the Jerwood Photography Award in 2005. Her photographs have been reproduced in various books on contemporary photography, including the anthology Vitamin Ph published by Phaidon, and in numerous specialist magazines (Foam, Photoworks, Art Review, Art Forum, Art Monthly, The New York Sun).
The series Explosion, which she is showing at Meessen De Clercq, consists of photographs that question the notions of fiction and falsified reality. For this series, Sarah Pickering photographed explosions caused by the British army on training fields in Great Britain. Having obtained special permission, she was able to witness the detonation of various types of bombs (napalm, thunderflash, mines, artillery fire, etc.).
Although the aesthetic quality of the prints is obvious, the feeling of dread that arises from such visions is by no means evaded. Although these explosions are provoked, they carry with them the horror of a reality that exists permanently in the world, that hurts and kills every day. The allusion to terror here is ambiguous enough to allow the viewer to question or even feel uncomfortable.
By photographing moments recreated from scratch by explosives specialists to perfect their training, Sarah 'represents representation'. These photographs, which at first glance may seem like images of war or disaster, are in fact real stagings. The reality thus manipulated leads us to question the supposed real value of the images that the press communicates to us daily. This is a good way to revive a critical mindset at the present time.
The photographs taken in the middle of the English countryside stand out from the generally known visions of this type of environment. Pickering photographs the paroxysmal moment, when the explosion is fully expressed. With great acuity, this young and talented artist manages to show the beauty and grandeur of fire while acknowledging its destructive power.