Review – Keith Arnatt – Self Burial

Brief:- Images in Sequence. What defines a sequence, as opposed to a series, is the connectivity of the images in time or concept. Make sure that you are clear about the difference between a series and sequence. Photographers have used sequences of images in many different ways.

Keith Arnatt 1930 – 2008 Photographer or Artist?

Although I would like to explore Arnatt further I will save that for a later date, and keep my focus on the brief. Arnatt is truly fascinating in his approach to art, and used photographer to develop conceptual pieces of art (O’Hagan; 2015).

Self-Burial (Television Interference Project) 1969 by Keith Arnatt 1930-2008Fig. 1. Self-burial (television interference project) (1969)

Initial thoughts – The title is helpful and reflects the self burial, although I don’t as yet understand the “television interference project”.

The sequence of photos show the differing and sequential stages of “self burial” The lighting is consistent, so its highly likely that the photos were all shot on the same day, although this was not done alone. Although the camera could be set on a timer, to dig himself into and out of a hole would have taken support. The patch of dirt grows in size, which also emphasis the sequence. Although the work is conceptual in nature, the sequence is time bound and time progressive. It appears that Self-burial builds upon his previous works Liverpool Beach Burial and Invisible Hole Revealed, which explore death, burial and deceit. Further works of Arnatt’s explore photography and its incongruity in relation to the camera as a means of showing truth.

“Arnatt was fascinated with works of art that are created in the natural landscape but leave no trace of their presence behind. ‘The continual reference to the disappearance of the art object suggested to me the eventual disappearance of the artist himself’, he wrote. This sequence of photographs was broadcast on German television in October 1969. One photo was shown each day, for about two seconds, sometimes interrupting whatever programme was being shown at peak viewing time. They were neither announced nor explained – viewers had to make what sense of them they could.” (2009)



Figure 1; Arnatt, K; 1969; Self-burial (television interference project) [Gelatin silver prints on paper on board]. (1969); AT: (accessed on 21/02/2018)


O’Hagan, S; 2015; Keith Arnatt is proof that the art world doesn’t consider photography ‘real’ art; Online AT: (accessed on 21/02/2018)

Pocock, P; 2015; Arnatt, Keith – Liverpool Beach Burial 1968; Online AT: (accessed on 21/02/2018); 2009; Gallery Label, Self-burial (television interference project) (1969); Online AT: (accessed on 21/02/2018)

7 Replies to “Review – Keith Arnatt – Self Burial”

  1. I found this series disturbing at the time I examined it. The concept of creating art in landscape that is transient I feel for, and the method of transmission on television in fleeting transient form I also sense is interesting, interrupting the expected flow of programming. Thus startling the viewer into questioning.
    I find the choice of subject matter – self burial whilst alive unsettling.
    Good review. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Its definitely an interesting and make you sit upright kind of sequence of images – something that perhaps won’t make you leave your seat while the interruption takes place. I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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