Street Flower: An Impossible View

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Taking John Berger's essay 'The Changing View of Man In The Portrait' (1967) as a point of departure this conference proceeding seeks to explore the complex nature of photography as perceived and anticipated by John Berger. Just over 150 years old, its technology and identity is now inextricably linked to our own. Its form, its function is woven into the very fabric of our landscape. It has become an extension of our own body, our selves, our identity. In 2010, a symposium at SFMOMA, posed the question, Is Photography Over? Here Berger might be used to support the idea that it is the very mutable, multiple and fundamentally unstable nature of photography - permanently in a state of transition and revolution - that prevents it from becoming extinct; reflective as it is of the society within which it evolves. As a medium, which lives with us, Photography is particularly well suited to the interrogation and representation of a world of great fracture and change. As a form it has many accents, which manage to speak from both inside and outside of the line, and in a voice that must challenge and adapt to the time within which it lives. Fundamentally, it refuses to look at the world from one single viewpoint, as Berger points out 'Every mode of individuality now relates to the whole world' (Berger, 1967). This research utilises my own photographic practice "Street Flower', and its specific evocation of the migrant as counterpart, to draw out these ideas as part of John Berger Now - an international academic conference at Canterbury Christ Church University ( and a series of events in Canterbury city centre in celebration of the life and work of John Berger (1926-2017). The beginning of 2017 sadly marked the death of John Berger, two months after his ninetieth birthday. As the life of an extraordinary writer about art and photography, Booker Prize-winning novelist, poet, playwright, and polemicist came to an end, so we have seen the first steps being taken in the formation of his posthumous legacy. John Berger Now seeks to build on the wave of recent scholarship presented at conferences on John Berger (University of Gdansk, 2011 and 2012, Kings College London, 2012 and Cardiff Metropolitan, 2014), and in On John Berger (ed. Ralph Hertel and David Malcolm) and seeks also to respond to and build upon the reception to his death in the weeks since January. The title of this conference speaks to the bracing process of seeing Berger and his body of work from our position on the other side of the dividing line. It also seeks to stress the importance of a writer whose work speaks directly and urgently of and to the state of the world at this moment in time. To these ends it welcomes contributions from across the many disciplines that Berger’s work encompasses.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 12 Sept 2017
EventJohn Berger Now: Canterbury Christ Church University : INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC CONFERENCE | EXHIBITION | SCREENINGS | TALKS - Canterbury Christ Church University , Canterbury, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Sept 201713 Sept 2017


ConferenceJohn Berger Now: Canterbury Christ Church University
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Photography
  • Migration
  • Counterpart
  • Performance
  • Gesture
  • Colour
  • Pattern
  • Magic
  • Portraiture
  • Landscape
  • Conflict
  • Colonialism
  • Post-Colonialism
  • Paris
  • Vietnam
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Women


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