Reportage drawing has always borne witness to the world’s most consequential events. For most of the 19thcentury, reportage drawing was the news image and its perception as a piece of objective truth was not widely debated. The photographic image should have rendered the drawn news image obsolete but instead it highlighted its strengths and, as an assemblage of witness accounts, was capable of producing a more expansive visual record than the technologically hampered photograph. With great and fast strides in technology, the photograph outpaced the drawing in speed, reproduction and, in a contextually specific way, objective truth. The reportage drawing persisted, but its function shifted. No longer was reportage drawing thenews image, but it captured a spectrum of experience and emotionalised subjects through a range of approaches, reflecting developments in the art world. The photograph drew closer attention to the specific contribution of drawing and practitioners treasure the way that vision itself is tested in the act. The drawings are provocative containers of experience and thought which unfurl in the immediacy of seeing and drawing.
Today reportage drawing is widely practiced and for varying different reasons. Moderated by Louis Netter, Gary Embury, Jill Gibbon and Mario Minichiello the panel will explore how practitioners see their own methodology as part of the continuum of the practice and how drawing distinguishes itself in this crowded image world. Recent RCA PhD graduate, Louis Netter, will contextualise this discussion by exploring the way that his own reportage drawing has provided many insights into the places he has visited and worked, including recent research trips to Nairobi in Kenya. This raises questions such as: how has reportage changed with the times to accommodate VR, animation and subject matter that is particularly suited to drawing? How might we explore the notion that reportage drawing is a radical act and the idea of power as it relates to the position of the artist and the meaning embedded in the effects of the drawing? The panel will explore the way that drawing can create a space of discussion around subjects which in the photograph, would be too context determined, specific and provocative. The drawing is also provocative but in different ways, through its facture and by being an image created by someone with intent. How does the humble act of drawing assert itself as a critical lens on a changing world?