Contemporary Fact versus Fiction

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"The documentary form is now more potent than ever, even though we believe less than ever in documentary truth..." —Hito Steyerl

Since the 1970s, contemporary photographers and filmmakers have questioned the truth claims of documentary photography. Jeff Wall is arguably the most famous example—and root—of this tendency; he calls many of his photographs "near documentary," since they appear like snapshots but are, in fact, elaborately staged, and subtly reveal their own artifice upon closer inspection. Works in this category question the widely held belief in the image as evidence, or the way ostensibly objective visual documentation shapes public perception and the historic record.

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