Maartje van den Heuvel, Discussing Documentary

Maartje van de Heuvel’s Discussing Documentary questions the legitimacy and effectiveness of documentary photography in the art scene, whether it is still performing its role of militant eye witness or refers to a degree of reality. She concludes that documentary photography in museums are signs of the increased role of the media in how reality is experienced in our western society and a response to that.

Because of the increased role of the media viewers have become more visual literate and artists are able to visually literate their findings in their work. It is developed through looking at documentary photography and is developed from there. Van den Heuvel describes how the function and visual elements of documentary photography has shifted in style, subject and distance from the subject, resulting in taking a step away from the classic documentary as we know it and analyse and comment on the structure and effect of documentary in the mass media.


Photographers I want to study more after reading the article: Juul Hondius, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Julian Germain and Fazal Sheikh


Van Den Heuvel, M. (2005) Discussing Documentary (pp 105 – 110) Documentary now!: Contemporary strategies in photography, film and the visual arts. Rotterdam: available in North, South and Central America through D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers.

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