Explosions, Fires And Public Order.
Photographs by Sarah Pickering.
Aperture, New York, 2009. 120 pp., 60 color illustrations, 8x11".
UK photographer Sarah Pickering’s Explosions,
Fires and Public Order 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. The
Explosions series documents the tactical use of
controlled explosions by the British military,
designed to add realistic stress to training exercises
and familiarize soldiers with various munitions.
Fire Series and Incident, Pickering’s most
recent series, 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.
Pickering’s projects reflect an aspect of the current
zeitgeist: global 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.”