Conspiracy Week

The Photographers’ Gallery presents Conspiracy Week, nine days of special events exploring the changing complexities of conspiracy theories; the myriad ways these ideas evolve, and their political significance. The programme includes: Divisive Moments, an exclusive exhibition of UFO photography; a new digital commission for the Media Wall as well as talks, artist film screenings & online resources

Art Exhibition previously on at The Photographers' Gallery in Greater London, United Kingdom.
From Friday 10 February 2017 to Saturday 18 February 2017

Conspiracy Week image

Published by anonymous on Thursday 26 January 2017.
Contact the publisher.

From conjecture around the moon landings, evidence of extraterrestrials, political hypotheses and the manipulation of our newsfeeds, conspiracy theories have always existed. However, since the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001 and, most recently, during the American elections, there has been a huge increase and shift in the methods utilised by conspiracy theorists to respond and share diverse views of extraordinary phenomena. In addition, the advent of the Internet – with its ability to communicate and apparently verify information instantly – has provided the fertile ground needed for conspiracists to spread their message in a world consumed by ‘alternative facts’.

Conspiracy Week offers a fascinating range of activities and presentations to explore and respond to the increased confusion between fact and fiction in a ‘post-truth’ world; and examines the role photography and the moving image play within these complex narratives.

Curated by UK-based writer and publisher Gordon McDonald, the exhibition Divisive Moments draws on the extensive archive of the foremost UFO research pioneer, Lt. Colonel Wendelle C. Stevens (1923-2010, USA). Over his 50-year career, Stevens amassed one of the largest photographic collections of UFO images, as well as publishing numerous books and documentaries including Contact: The Billy Meier Phenomenon (1978).

The exhibition includes 240 original slide images, used by Stevens on his UFO lecture tours, as well as his notes, books, ephemera and films. It will also explore some of the most notorious cases of twentieth century UFO history including Abduction at Botucatu – the story of the repeated abduction of Brazilian man Joao Valerio da Silva and his eldest son by aliens. The presentation includes testimonials, documents, books, tape-recordings of alien language and photographs of an ‘alien’ life form.

Especially commissioned for our digital Media Wall, artist Joey Holder has created SELACHIMORPHA, a screen based work, which takes a particular sequence from the 1975 film Jaws as a means to look at the ways in which manipulated images are appropriated and circulated by Internet culture as ‘fact’. The scene, which shows a shooting star flaring behind hero Roy Schneider, has become fodder for conspiracy theories. The ease of ‘adapting’ and then distributing images – such as deserts, outer space and oceans – offers a rich breeding ground for the fictional and make believe. Taking its name from a scientific classification for sharks, this project morphs between factual and fictional images, symbols and memes; exposing the continually shifting belief systems we use to define our world.

In addition, our online platform, unthinking.photography explores the role ‘fauxtography’ plays in shaping contemporary reality. First coined during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war to describe the blatant use of manipulated images in news articles, the term encapsulates how casual we have become in our relationship to such images and the way they are used to spread populist discourses and fan conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy Week also presents a dynamic programme of talks and artist film screenings, which examine the broader psychological, social and political roles played by conspiracy theories today.

Talks include:
How Did We Get Here? From Rational Paranoia to the Post Truth Conspiracist President, led by Clare Birchall, author of Knowledge Goes Pop: From Conspiracy Theory to Gossip and King’s College lecturer. Tuesday 14 February

Who Believes in Conspiracy Theories? led by Dr Hugo Drochon, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, CRASSH Conspiracy and Democracy Research Project. Wednesday 15 February