Exposed at Tate Modern


By Laura King

The Tate Modern this summer was host to the exhibition Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera, a shocking and intimate exhibition involving themes of sex, desire, death, privacy, spying and violence.

The work ranges from the last 100 years showing the history and beginning of the voyeur and the invasion of privacy, which of course now with modern technology has never been easier.

The exhibition consisted of 13 rooms split into five themes/areas. They also hosted a display of cameras for spying and voyeuristic purposes such as a camera in a walking stick and played two films.

The exhibition is highly focused on the voyeur, and the morals of privacy. A lot, if not most, of the images on display featured subjects unaware of the camera.

A piece presented by Sophie Calle directed her camera away from people, and instead invaded their privacy by photographing all belongings they had in their hotel room, which she achieved by working as a maid in the hotel. She then presented her work in a way in which we could compare rooms, beds and shoes, producing a series of consistent images.

Only a few pieces such as Helmut Newton's fashion images were not taken in a sneaky way or hidden from the subject. His work was more straight forward and up front, with his stunning female nudes. Even so the images still invited voyeurism.

The exhibition to an extent shows how photography can be so invasive in life and death, showing us things we don't always want to see. The dead, the peeping tom viewing people buying sex. It was an unpleasant sneaky insight to this world. Not only this but the camera was shown to have been watching people in this way very soon after photography emerged.

Photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Harry Callahan featured in the display of spying and prying. The techniques to achieve such invasive images were interesting too, hidden cameras on a subway, shoots taken from a window. A great result was gained from diCorcia in his close up head portraits which appear very cinematic due to the flash being set up to set off in the dark as the subject moves through an urban space.

The exhibition questions a lot of things about looking and being looked at, surveillance cameras and big brother and the violent images there to shock, yet worse can be seen on the internet as many of us have no doubtlessly seen. Not only this but the internet provides all the elements from the exhibition if we so wish to see it, along with the media feeding our curious mind with celebs, sex and violence.