Social Commentary

Social Commentary

Social comentary is the act of using rhetorical means to provide commentary on issues in a society. This can be done through all means of comunication from, art to wrighting. Using speach, imagary, and often in contemporary society the internet.

This is done to express feelings towards a certain aspect or nature of society and is often done with the idea of promoting change.

Here I have looked at work by both the photographer Camilo José Vergara and the street artist Banksy.

Camilo José Vergara

Camilio Jose Vergara (born 1944) is a Chilean-born, New York based writer photographer and documentarian.

Vergara is best known for his photographic documentation of American slums and decaying urban enviroments during the 80s. He would photograph the same buildings and neighborhoods from the exact same vantage points at regular intervals over many years in order to capture the changes over time. Using this tecnique of rephotography in New York, Detroit and Chicago as well as other cities across America.

Trained as a sociologist with a specialty in urbanism, Vergara applied his systematic documentation methods at  moments of extraordinary urban stress.

Whether his work was done with the goal of influencing change or simply to document the dyer conditions of American ghettos at the time, his work reflects social issues of urban neglect during this period.


Banksy is an anonymous street artist known for his politically based,  Social comentary artwork. Mostly done in the form of graffiti using various stencils and paint work, his work has been compared to Blek le Rat who began to work with stencils in Paris around 1981 although Banksy denied the artist was of any influence to him. Banksy’s work has caused masses of controversy not only due to its subject matter but also due to the way the artist chooses to present various ideas to his audience, for example painting a live elephant at his first U.S exhibition. Various pieces of Banksys work have been sold for thousands at auction, for example his piece titled Simple Intelligence Testing sold for 363,500 GBP.

Research References,,1543331,00.html


This work tought me about Social commentary found within art work and photography something I was aware of although I didn’t fully understand the concept. The research I did helped me get my head around it. Looking into work by Camilo Jose Vergara taught me about the tecnique of rephotography some thing I found interesting as it allows a photographer to document a subject over time. As for my research into Banksy, I was already rather familiar with the artist, As I have been a fan of his work for some time dispite this it was interesting to find out a few facts I didnt already know about the artist, such as the incredibly high sales figures of some of his pieces.


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