The Subversive



Intended or serving to subvert, especially intended to overthrow or undermine an established government: “Sex and creativity are often seen by dictators as subversive activities” (Erica Jong).

One who advocates or is regarded as advocating subversion
When talking about subversiveness in terms of the creative field, the possibilities are endless. George Rodger was a pioneer in the subversive: choosing not only to avoid the typical propaganda shots of wartime and telling real stories of real people. He didn’t want his ideology twisted by magazines/newspapers and he developed his film just how he wanted. George Rodger went against working as an image maker and more as a story-teller.
Tim Hetherington as a war photojournalist chose not to idealise war and portray its evils, but told more intimate stories of the soldiers. He creates immersive narratives which pulls the emotions of his viewers in a way that war photography hasn’t before, or at least since war photography has become numb to viewers emotions.
However recently, since I have been researching about archives and appropriation, I found an artist, Tim Linfield, who uses archives in an subversive sense. A successful archive aims to preserve its contents for as long as possible; however, it appears that Linfield’s artwork undermines this ideology. He uses old books as raw materials for his art. Often quite extremely. In this case, he burned banned books and put the ashes into jars. This is a continuation of ‘control’; like how Nazis burned Jewish books to highlight that Jewish literature was unacceptable in Germany, Linfield burned the banned books to echo authority. Furthermore, it is also a comment on archive preservation: why do we keep preserving objects which fundamentally in their torched state, look the same?

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