Photographer Research – John Hilliard

Posted: March 5, 2014 in Portrait - Identities - Culture & Self

John Hilliard, born in Lancaster in 1945, is an English conceptual artist. Hilliard showed that, although a camera can’t lie, the photographs can tell different truths. He did so with his work titled ‘Cause of Death’. It consisted of 4 images taken of the same human body covered with a sheet. Each photograph suggested a different cause of death, depending on how it was framed. Each photograph had a one word title, such as “Crushed”, “Drowned”, “Burned” and “Fell”. This showed that the framing of a photograph affects how a photograph is read.

Hilliard 005

Hilliard also plays with the ideas of identity and culture. His portrait of an Asian woman, called ‘East/West’, was created in a way that that the stylised profile could be manipulated to represent different cultures. For some reason, I can not seem to find an image of this, which is a shame.

The following are some other examples of Hilliard’s work.

'Facade' and 'Flight of Happiness' 1982 by John Hilliard born 1945

Hilliard 002

Yes/No, 2006

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Table For Four, 2003

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In Black-And-White And Colour (2), 2007

The images themselves aren’t really my kind of thing, but I do appreciate the ideas behind them. Such as the photograph of the woman in the orange dress. If you look properly, you see her in a green dress in the same overlaid image. It’s the classic case of the woman asking an opinion “Yes or no?”, when showing the dresses. Hence why the title is ‘Yes/No’. Simple, but effective is what I class that as. And similar ideas seem to carry on throughout his work.




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