Artist Sarah Pickering lists her interests as explosions, sci-fi, fakes, tests, gunfire, and hierarchy. Born in Durham, England, in 1972, Pickering lives and works in London. Her photography challenges us to consider what is real as she turns her lens to planned disasters and organized chaos. Working with emergency services, the police, and even pyrotechnics manufacturers, Pickering creates images that pull audiences, sometimes violently, out of their comfort zones. In her monographic book Explosions, Fires, and Public Order (Aperture, 2010), for which Lannan Foundation provided funding, curator Karen Irvine writes, "Sarah Pickering's photographs jar our sense of security and illuminate the way in which we cope with traumatic events that are beyond our control."
Pickering's work has been exhibited all over the world, including at the Tate Britain, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Meessen De Clercq in Brussels. In 2010 she was the subject of a solo exhibition called Sarah Pickering: Incident Control at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. She is currently a teaching fellow at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London.