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Max Pinckers on Speculative Documentary

CA Position Lecture

Tuesday 08.11.21, 16.30 – 18.00
Lecture in English

BA Visual Communication – Camera Arts
Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
School of Art and Design

As a documentary artist, Max Pickers’ work explores the critical, technological, and ideological structures that surround the production and consumption of documentary images. Documentary photography involves more than the representation of an external reality: it’s a speculative process that approaches reality and truth as plural, malleable notions open to articulation in different ways.

Like the external world that it claims to represent, the documentary image is inherently unstable, dependent on context and on customary languages of realism. For the past ten years he has been producing works that draw on contemporary and historical debates, merging fact, fiction and imagination to reflect on the ways that the real is defined and represented. It treats documentary as a hybrid practice involving not just images, but objects, performance, texts, found-footage and sculptural interventions that investigate the complex nature of perception.

From the series 'Red Ink' © Max Pinckers
From the series 'Margins of Excess' © Max Pinckers
From the series 'Margins of Excess' © Max Pinckers

Max Pinckers

Max Pinckers (b.1988, BE) is an artist based in Brussels, Belgium. His work explores the critical, technological, and ideological structures that surround the production and consumption of documentary images. Documentary photography, for Pinckers, involves more than the representation of an external reality: it’s a speculative process that approaches reality and truth as plural, malleable notions open to articulation in different ways.

Like the external world that it claims to represent, the documentary image is inherently unstable, dependent on context and on customary languages of realism. Pinckers’ work draws on contemporary and historical debates, merging fact, fiction and imagination to reflect on the ways that the real is defined and represented. It treats documentary as a hybrid practice involving not just images, but objects, performance, texts, found footage and sculptural interventions that investigate the complex nature of perception.

Collaboration is essential to Pinckers’ practice, creating a space for the exchange of ideas between himself and the people he works with, and for critical examination of his own position as a photographer. Coincidence and intuition have also come to play an increasingly important role in the work. Incorporating elements whose significance is not immediately obvious is a way of extending the documentary gesture, incorporating viral affinities and shared meanings that stand outside accepted definitions of reality.

Ultimately, Pinckers’ self-reflexive work sets out to question both documentary discourse and artistic practice – to create new modes of documentary that foreground the deceptive nature of images and remind audiences of the way that half-truths and biases shape our encounters with information – yet always human.

His work takes shape as self-published artist books and exhibition installations such as The Fourth Wall (2012), Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty (2014), and Margins of Excess (2018). Pinckers is a Doctor in the Arts and guest lecturer at the School of Arts KASK & Conservatorium in Ghent, Belgium. He has received multiple international awards, such as the Edward Steichen Award Luxembourg 2015 and the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2018. In 2015 he founded the independent publishing house Lyre Press and The School of Speculative Documentary in 2017. Pinckers is represented by Gallery Sofie Van de Velde in Antwerp and Tristan Lund in London.

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