NEW YORK, NY.- Sarah Pickerings "Explosions, Fires, and Public Order", (Aperture, April 2010) is a visually arresting glimpse into the secret world of civil defense. Combining four series, the book begins with Public Order, a project exploring the Metropolitan Police Public Order Training Centre, a simulated urban environment near London where officers rehearse responses to imagined scenarios of civic unrest. Next, the Explosions series documents the tactical use of controlled explosions by the British military to add realistic stress to training exercises and familiarize soldiers with various munitions.
Fire Series and Incident, Pickerings most recent work, were produced while she was an artist in residence at the UK Fire Training College. While there she photographed blazes that were set inside meticulously and elaborately constructed home interiors as well as the stark, charred remnants of fake urban settings after the scenario fires had been put out.
Pickerings projects reflect an aspect of the current zeitgeist: terrorism matched with omnipresent anxiety. My work explores the idea of imagined threat and response, and looks at fear and planning for the unexpected, merging fact and fiction, fantasy and reality. While the images in Explosions, Fires, and Public Order have a transcendent formal beauty, they are a disquieting reminder of the delicate balance between order and chaos.
SARAH PICKERING (born in Durham City, England, 1972) finished her MA in photography at Royal College of Art in London in 2005. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Photographers Gallery Graduate Award and a Jerwood Award. Pickering has exhibited internationally and in the U.K. where her work was part of How We Are: Photographing Britain, at Tate Britain. She lives in London.
KAREN IRVINE (essay) is curator of the Museum of Contemporary Photography and a part-time instructor of photography at Columbia College Chicago. She has organized numerous exhibitions, including Paul Shambroom: Evidence of Democracy and Alec Soth: Sleeping by the Mississippi, and is the author of books on Dave Jordano, Anthony Goicolea, and Laura Letinsky.