Fortunes of War (Book)

Photography in Alter Space

By Eric Lesdema Series edited by Alfredo Cramerotti

An extended edit of Eric Lesdema’s photographic series of the same name, with 83 colour photographs and essays from leading academics which analyse how his work provides an alternative approach to documentary photography. Twenty-first-century interpretations and applications of photography are questioned, as are warfare and its cultural framework.


Eric Lesdema’s photographic series Fortunes of War was awarded the UN Nikon World Prize in 1997. Originally a series of fifteen images, this extended edit includes 83 colour photos, accompanied by a series of essays by leading academics in the field. The essays explore ideas raised by the prescient nature of the work, offering a highly original and engaging debate about its alternative approach to documentary photography, which views photography as an alternate space with the potential to project events rather than record them. In exploring an approach that cuts against the traditional concept central to documentary photography since its inception, the book thus raises important questions about twenty-first century interpretations and applications of photography and media. With thought-provoking research and a diverse array of essay contributions, Fortunes of War proposes new lines of interdisciplinary investigation, reflection and inquiry.


Nikon Award info:

Eric Lesdema is a photographer living in Cardiff, Wales. His work is showcased by DACS Artimage and is held in several collections, including the Contemporary Art Society.

Series editor Alfredo Cramerotti is a research scholar at the University of South Wales’s European Centre for Documentary Research, director of Mostyn Visual Arts Centre, Wales, and editor of Intellect Books’ Critical Photography series. He is the author of several books, including Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform without Informing and Unmapping the City: Perspectives of Flatness, also published by Intellect Books.

FROM THE SERIES EDITOR TO THE READER: The Immateriality of Culture

What’s in a Day?

Right on Target

A Visual Historiography 

A Reading, in Retrospection

‘… Pro Foro Mori’

Unstuck: ‘War Artists Without A War’

‘Closed for Judging’: The Just Emplacement of Eric Lesdema 

The Practitioner in Alter Space 

About the Contributors

'Eric Lesdema’s Fortunes of War offers an enticing and fundamentally unsettling engagement with the tensions (war) and consequences of the everyday. Nothing – not even the project title– can be taken at face value. As is suggested, image-meaning and significance float freely sometimes finding temporary anchors within specific conceptual or social contexts. Resonances between essays and images intrigue in this complex publication that takes its time to seduce the reader.'

Liz Wells, University of Plymouth

'The nine essays comprising the first half of the book operate in dialogue with the subsequent colour reproductions of the original photographic work, Fortunes of War, which was awarded the UN Nikon World Prize in 1997. In their detailed analytical approaches, the critical texts illuminate specific facets of the logic and power of Fortunes of War. Lesdema developed his Ant-optik method of constructing an anterior perspective in order to reframe visual appearances as a state of becoming, where what is arranged by an image is understood as always provisional and relational.


The book shows us the absolute historical limits of photographic representation and its semiotic analysis, now eclipsed by the networked image, as well as Lesdema’s serious and valiant attempt to rethink the dominant photographic paradigm and discover a practice of image making which resonates with the forces of change. It might well be said that the practice Lesdema developed from the 1990s, intuited the end of photography through a methodological practice which recognised in the medium the viral re-composition of materials and the bodies they represent. Fortunes of War speaks to war understood as capitalism by another means. In the opening of his own essay in the book, Lesdema asks ‘Is physical time a form of techno-capital?’ (p.61) and the answer across all of the contributions to the book is clearly a yes. The book is a profound announcement that there is no Euclidian geometry, no Albertian window, nor single point perspective, from which the violence of capital can be expressed.'

Andrew Dewdney
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