Work by 18 of the photographers with whom John Pilger has collaborated over the last thirty or forty years is on show in Reporting the World, at the Barbican Gallery until 30 September. The exhibition is a record of events we remember - vaguely or clearly - having followed and others that we didn't follow, even if we tell ourselves now that we did. The themes, inevitably, are death, upheaval, dismay and tension in a dozen places or more, the furthest probably Alice Springs, the closest probably Wolverhampton. In most of the locations we're taken to extremes, but not left stranded. There's plenty of explanatory text, as there was when these photos originally appeared alongside Pilger's copy. Some of the most striking pages from the Mirror, the Guardian and the New Statesman are enlarged and hung here, most memorably the 'world exclusive' from Cambodia in 1979, after the Khmer Rouge had abandoned Phnom Penh to the Vietnamese Army. The opening paragraph on page one of the Mirror, under a close-up of three blanched skulls taken by Pilger's colleague Eric Piper, talks of a society consigned to 'an age of slavery, without families and sentiment, without machines, schools, books, medicine, music'. The pages themselves seem old, the events not nearly old enough.
LRB 23 August 2001 | PDF Download