BOOK REVIEW: the Camera i – Photographic self-portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas collection

BOOK REVIEW

The camera I – Photographic self-portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas collection

The book consists of over 140 self-portraits from the nineteenth century until 1988. The photographs are from the collection of Audrey and Sidney Irmas.

In his introductory essay, Robert Sobieszek “Otherselves in photographic Self-Portraiture” meditates on the meaning and significance of self-portraiture. He suggests that as the artist and the subject are the same in self-portraiture the dynamics of viewing, interpreting and representing involve self-reflection at many levels. Interesting he asserts that:

to achieve an honest and convincing representation of the self invariably embodies the realisation that the inner and outer are ultimately distinct, that there are at least two selves, one accessible and another hidden, and that the “I” in self-portraiture is truly comprehending an “other.”(Sobieszek, 1994).

The photographer Richard Avelon said that every portrait is a form of acting or performance and of course the self can be constructed “The self is a project, something to be built” (Susan Sontag, 1978). But self-portraits are revealing “charts of the most personal sort usually done in quiet complicity with the self” (Sobieszek, 1994).

Sobieszek explains that self-portraiture is in three parts: delineation, distortion and disguise. The delineation as the self-portrait basically records the artist on a surface level. However the artist will have altered the surface view in some way and the challenge is seeing beneath the surface. Some self-portraits don’t use the face or even the artists body, Walker Lee Evans represents himself as a shadow, Lee Friedlander as a shadow on the back of a woman (1966).

lee Lee Friedlander, 1966 (Tfaoi.com, 2017)

Others distort their face or their bodies such as Bernice Abbott (1945) in a mirror reflection,

1945_berewnice-abbott_self-portrait-distortion_c (Photographie au Féminin, des femmes photographes, 2017).

Or as Bruce Nauman (1970) does with his own body.

a 1970 by Bruce Nauman born 1941 (Tate.org.uk., 2017).

Fracturing and multiplying the self-image are other ways of constructing the self. Anton Stankowski presents his face in a spiralling image (1937).

StankowskiAC1992_197_117 (Lacma.org, 2017)

Sobeiszek suggests that in distorting their normal look “an inner state of mind or interior agitation may be suggested” (Sobieszek, 1994).

Herbert Bayer‘s self-portrait “Humanly impossible” (1932) which I saw the original photomontage at the Radical Eye exhibition of Sir Elton John’s photographic collection, is an amazing manipulation of photography and just fascinated me.

herbert-bayer-self-portrait (Bayer, 2017).

Henri Cartier Bression offers a self-portrait which is a fraction of his body, his side, pelvis and foot (1933), as do many other artists.

Using mirrors and reflections are other techniques employed by photographers to distort or disguise themselves in a self-portrait.

dieter

The collection of images in this book helped me to see a wide picture of self-portraits by photographers. However each one seems to give further evidence to the idea that I came across when initially researching, Trish Morrissey, Francesca Woodman, Nikki S Lee and later Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun that we all have multiple selves. It is this that I shall take into my Assignment 3: putting yourself in the picture.

References

Bayer, H. (2017). Herbert Bayer Auction Results – Herbert Bayer on artnet. [online] Artnet.com. Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/herbert-bayer/past-auction-results/28 [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Lacma.org. (2017). Imagining the Modern Self: Photographs from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection | LACMA. [online] Available at: http://www.lacma.org/art/installation/imagining-modern-self-photographs-audrey-and-sydney-irmas-collection [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Photographie au Féminin, des femmes photographes – Photography in the Feminine, womens photographers. (2017). A – Photographie au Féminin, des femmes photographes – Photography in the Feminine, womens photographers. [online] Available at: http://photographieaufeminin.over-blog.com/pages/A-1933627.html [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Pinterest. (2017). Dieter Appelt – Autoportrait (1978) (Everything and). [online] Available at: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/466615211365531994/ [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Pinterest. (2017). killerbeesting* — Robert Doisneau – Self Portrait, 1953. [online] Available at: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/391813236303839543/ [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Sobieszak and Irmas (1994). The camera i. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Los Angeles county museum of art.

Sobieszek, R (1994) “Otherselves in photographic Self-Portraiture” in: Sobieszek and Irmas (1994). The camera i. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Los Angeles county museum of art.

Sontag, S (1978) Under the sign of Saturn. New York. Vintage books.

Tate.org.uk. (2017). Self-portrait. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/s/self-portrait [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Tfaoi.com. (2017). Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. [online] Available at: http://www.tfaoi.com/am/16am/16am1.jpg [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this site are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only

EXHIBITION: BEHIND THE MASK, ANOTHER MASK

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask. National Portrait Gallery (Visited 1.4.17)

The exhibition is part of the “I am me?” season of displays and events exploring art gender and identity at the National Portrait Gallery. It brings together two photographers, of different eras, Claude Cahun (1894-1954) and Gillian Wearing (b1963). They both have a fascination with self-portraits and use self-images to explore themes around identity and gender and often play these out through masquerade and performance.

The starting point to the exhibition was Cahun’s series “I am in training” (1927) where she blurred gender distinctions, dressed as a weightlifter but with painted lips and love hearts on her cheeks.

cahun wieghtlifter (Johnson, 2017)

Wearing has responded to Cahun’s image with “Me as Cahun holding a mask of my face” (2012), where she represents herself both as Cahun and as an artist; holding a mask of her own face and wearing a mask of Cahun’s face over her own.

wearing as cahun.jpg (200percentmag, 2017).

Cahun’s image makes me feel uncomfortable as her male costume with items such as stuck on nipples on her top, are at odds with each other; I guess this is the effect she desired. Wearing’s image is softer and more playful as she shows she can take on another identity (female).

The first part of the exhibition shows Cahun and Wearing’s early self-portraits:

In their youth they were both highly conscious of their own self-images and used the camera to begin with experimenting with their many different guises.

Cahun was born Lucy Schwob and transitioned from young woman to gender neutral. With her life-long partner Suzanne Malherbe they adopted gender neutral names, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. There are many self-portraits of Cahun: as a young girl with wild thick hair splayed out as if on a hospital bed, possibly referring to her periods of ill health and anorexia, in a turban, in an oriental setting, reading and so on. In the picture below she sits on granite rocks with hair arranged as a boy (1915-17)

Cahun early (Queerculturalcenter.org, 2017).

 Her self-portraits gradually become even more gender neutral, one with a shaven head shirt and braces another with a towel arranged as a Greek robe with bronzed skin, another in profile wearing a corduroy jacket possibly a recreation of a profile portrait of her father and below dressed as a dandy (1921-22).

cahun dandy (Hudson, 2017)

“Masculine? Feminine?

It depends on the situation.

Neuter is the only gender that suits me”

(Claude Cahun 1930, written on the exhibition wall).

Her early work is very narcissistic although obviously focusing on how gender represents identity, I’m not sure if she was expressing a wider issue than her own identity.

Gillian Wearing’s “My Polaroid years” are early self-portraits about 250 shots, in which she used makeshift props and backgrounds to reveal everyday life. Her mood ranges from the self-consciously performative to the ordinary and every day. She began taking the Polaroid’s as a project to examine her own age progression rather than an exhibition material and said when she viewed them objectively it was as though they were portraits of someone else

 “In a way they became anthropological images because I was distancing myself from being an artist taking the photographs…I was doing something as a photographer, but in a very unphotographic way

(Wearing from the exhibition wall, 2017)

Viewing them myself was like looking at her selfies over a period of time, unlike Cahun’s early self-portraits I don’t see any wider issues being addressed.  However as they were taken for herself rather than an audience then I don’t think they can be called self-indulgent. Both Cahun and Wearing certainly seemed to lose their inhibitions through performance.

However I did find her Me:me self-referential photograph below very interesting, conceived in the 1990s she appears to be looking at a magazine about her herself; is she referencing her multiple selves as the self-portrait repeats itself and disappears into infinity? Though possibly if it was to reference her multiple selves each image would have been different?

wearing me me.jpg (FAD Magazine, 2017)

Later works

“You always feel that you are the mask to some degree

(Wearing, 2012 from exhibition wall)

Masks became central to her practice. In 1994 she encouraged sitters in masks to confess all on video “Confess all on video. Don’t worry, you’ll be in disguise. Intrigued? Call Gillian.

 Then in 2014 she reconstructed herself at 21 in a photograph from 1984 to represent her artistic life and life in a bed sit in a tableau evidence of interest in Dali and surrealism with a mask of her younger self over her face.

wearing self portrait hobbies.jpg (Royalacademy.org.uk, 2017).

Initially she used prosthetic masks with crudely cut out eyes, which I find disturbing:

wearing.jpg Secrets and Lies, 2009© Gillian Wearing (Skidmore, 2017).

In this image she poses with her head and shoulders turned as in a historical pose.

wearing cut out Self portrait of me in mask 2011.  Hudson, 2017)

Cahun similarly had a fascination with masks and masquerades “Under this mask, another mask” (1930) so she that could adopt an alter ego or other personality. Cahun obliterates her eyes whilst wearing always looks at the viewer. Cahun’s self-portrait below (1928) as a masked figure in cloak decorated with masks is apparently a visualisation of her belief that she was made up of multiple self’s.

JS1227cahun and masks (Hudson, 2017)

Both artists were interested in transcending time, and shared concerns about the passage of time. Wearing’s photograph appears blurred on a clock face “Me as a clock” (1990). Her “Rock n’ roll 70s” wallpaper uses forensic artists and her own technical work to create impressions of how she might look aged effects of plastic surgery with her changing hairstyles and dress influenced by Warhol works.

She also reconstructed a picture of the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe ”Me as Mapplethorpe” (2009) wearing a mask of him just before his death in 1988, she tried to ensure her eyes held the same psychological expression as his, showing inner turbulence but still very much alive.

mapplethorpe (Royal Academy, 2017).

Both artists focus on their identities, though Cahun on gender whilst Wearing explores her identity more in relation to others whatever their gender. Cahun’s “Studies for a keepsake” (1925) where her disembodied head floats in different poses like an animal in a bell jar but with painted lips and shoulder length hair, shows her trapped by her female identity.

My conclusions:

  • I think they are both using their work to explore themselves as individuals (Cahun) and in relation to others (Wearing); sometimes using disguises or performance to investigate their ideas.
  • They are both unafraid to express themselves through their photography.
  • Their viewpoints are subjectively driven from their position in their worlds, as they analysis themselves, so their work is self-exploratory.
  • They are both using self-portraiture to question identity and wearing in particular how it can fluctuate widely.

 My learning points

  • Self-portraiture may be less than comfortable (for me) but it could be useful to for self-exploration.
  • I should embrace assignment 3 “Putting yourself in the picture” to explore my own identity.
  • Self-portraiture is not necessarily narcissistic but could be therapeutic and enlightening.

 References

FAD Magazine. (2017). Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask at National Portrait Gallery – FAD Magazine. [online] Available at: http://fadmagazine.com/2017/04/07/__trashed-9/ [Accessed 14 Apr. 2017].

Hudson, M (2017) “Gillian Wearing And Claude Cahun: Behind The Mask, Another Mask, National Portrait Gallery, Review”. The Telegraph. N.p., 2017. Web. 7 Apr. 2017.

Johnson, S. (2017). Claude Cahun: A Very Curious Spirit. [online] AnOther. Available at: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/7358/claude-cahun-a-very-curious-spirit [Accessed 16 Apr. 2017].

Queerculturalcenter.org. (2017). Acting Out: Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. [online] Available at: http://www.queerculturalcenter.org/Pages/Tirza/TirzaEssay1.html [Accessed 16 Apr. 2017].

Royalacademy.org.uk. (2017). Behind the mask: Gillian Wearing RA | Blog | Royal Academy of Arts. [online] Available at: http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/gillian-wearing-vincent-award [Accessed 16 Apr. 2017].

Skidmore, M. (2017). The Many Selves of Gillian Wearing. [online] AnOther. Available at: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/7906/the-many-selves-of-gillian-wearing [Accessed 15 Apr. 2017].

200percentmag. (2017). Gillian Wearing interview. [online] Available at: http://200-percent.com/gillian-wearing-2/ [Accessed 16 Apr. 2017].

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this site are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.

EXHIBITION: BP PORTRAIT AWARD 2016 LINCOLN USHER GALLERY

BP Portrait Award 2016 Lincoln Usher Gallery (November 2016) & National Portrait gallery

When I visited the exhibition I was as interested in the texts accompanying the portraits as I was the portraits and art work.

I NOTED THAT THE SITTERS RARELY LOOKED COMFORTABLE, AND ANXIETY SEEMED TO BE  A COMMON THEME:

 A PORTRAIT OF MY SON. Miseon lee (b.1959)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_1381 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

The artist says: ‘This painting focuses on the uncertainty of youth where young minds are left confused on the brink of adulthood.’

 A NUMBER OF PORTRAITS USED OR TALKED ABOUT MIRRORS AND REFLECTIONS:

DIVERSION (Oil on board). Charlie masson (b.1987)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_1373(Npg.org.uk, 2017).

This is a self-portrait of the artist seen in the screen of his mobile phone. Phones and tablets are often used as impromptu mirrors, although the artist comments that they have also ‘become an extension of our bodies, containing all sorts of information pertaining to our identity.’

SELF-PORTRAIT IN PEMBROKE STUDIOS (Oil, charcoal and wax on panel). Eileen Hogan (b.1946)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_0640(Npg.org.uk, 2017).

Since 2013 Hogan has used a studio that belonged to Leonard Rosoman. Hogan says: ‘He used a mirror on a hinge to gain a different perspective on his paintings, and I kept getting glimpses of myself at work. I came upon this image of myself by gradual, stealthy approach.’

A FEW ARTISTS EMPLOYED PROPS FOR DIFFERENT  REASONS:

PORTRAIT IN THE MIRROR: THE VEIL (Oil on canvas). Antonio laglia (b.1953)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_1713(Npg.org.uk, 2017).

The portrait is of Natasha, a professional model who has worked with Laglia for some time. He describes the process as: ‘The model entered the studio and sat in front of the mirror and just for fun tried some hats. When she found an old white hat with a veil, her reflection became the starting point for work to begin’.

TO SENSE WHAT IS COMING (Oil on panel). Jane Gardiner (b.1974)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_0865 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

The artist organised sittings with friends to create sketches, photographs and reference material for when she had recovered. Gardiner wanted to explore how people use props to tell stories about themselves and provided a range of crowns, ears and masks from which they could choose.

 TAD (SON OF THE ARTIST) (Oil on canvas). John Borowicz (b.1968)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_1883 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

The portrait is of the artist’s son. Borowicz says: ‘This portrait came about quite by surprise. One day my youngest son found a large paper bag and instinctively put it on his head. While wearing the hat he became even more animated than usual, like an actor going into character. This transformation represented the notions of play and discovery in the purest sense.’

KARINA IN HER RAINCOAT (Oil on canvas). Brian Sayers (b.1954)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_0326 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

The portrait is of the artist’s friend Karina. Sayers says: ‘I wanted the coat to be the main focus. The dramatic shape inspired me in relation to the figure it contained, particularly the way it enveloped her, and the colour.’ Karina happened to be gesticulating while chatting; the pose was captured in one of Sayers’s reference photographs.

I NOTED THE TECHNIQUES THAT ARTIST USED TO DELIBERATLY PORTRAY THEIR SUBJECTS IN CERTAIN WAYS:

 RÉGIS (Oil on canvas). Christophe Therrien (b.1966)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_1015 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

Therrien aimed to capture a simple, ordinary gesture of everyday life of his friend. As Régis looks up into the dramatic light coming from above, the pose takes on added tension, while the low viewpoint was chosen to give intimacy to the moment.

 I WAS ALSO INTERESTED IN THE BACKGROUNDS AND OTHER PROPS THAT GAVE CONTEXT TO THEIR SUBJECTS:

PORTRAIT OF MARTIN CHAFFER (Oil on canvas). SOPIO CHKHIKVADZE (b.1972)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_2052 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

The portrait is of the photographer, Martin Chaffer, whom has a particular interest in paintings and agreed to several sittings with the artist. Chkhikvadze decided to paint Chaffer with a map of London to provide an interesting visual context.

FALK (Oil on canvas). David von Bassewitz

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_2002 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

The portrait is of the artist’s close friend Falk, depicted in his apartment, filled with books, paintings, drawings and sculptures. Von Bassewitz says: ‘It is like entering Falk’s train of thought. You could say his apartment in itself is a kind of portrait with him at the centre.’ Background can be a portrait with subject at centre like two pictures back to back. The shape and background in this picture facinated me.

 THERE WERE FEW SELF PORTRAITS:

 INSOMNIA (Oil and resin on wood). Diego Aznar (b.1985)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_0284 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

This is a self-portrait, of which Aznar says: ‘In this painting I attempt to depict a state of anxiety by using a deeply shadowed background and a view from above. I’m interested in different aspects of human behaviour and how they are perceived by society.’

SELF (Oil on board). Shany Van Den Berg (b.1958)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_1556 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

This self-portrait was undertaken in a short time frame of 9–10 days to create focus and clarity. The artist says: ‘In the age of instant selfies, fleeting likes and constant sharing, there is something wonderful about the permanence of a self-portrait painting. It invites repeated musing and offers newly discovered details even after a thousand views.’

SOME PORTRAITS WERE OF INTEREST TO ME MAINLY BECAUSE OF THE ACCOMPANYING TEXT THAT EXPLAINED THE ARTIST’S MOTIVES RATHER THAN FOR THE PORTRAIT ITSELF:

FRANCESCA (Oil on canvas). Daniele Vezzani (b.1955)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_0340 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

The portrait is of the artist’s daughter, Francesca. In creating this work he took inspiration from an earlier photograph of Francesca as a teenager while her personality was forming. He says: ‘The left part of the face is watching us carefully, the right one seems to be looking inside herself.’

SILENCE (Tempera on board). Bo Wang (b.1981)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_0189 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

The portrait is of Bo Wang’s grandmother, lying in a hospital bed during the last stages of cancer and losing her ability to speak. Wang says that they had a sometimes difficult relationship until the onset of illness brought about a belated reconciliation. He says: ‘Sometimes she tilted her head and looked at me. There was too much emotion in her eyes to be expressed in words,’

PIA (Oil on board). Gentian Lulani (b.1972)

190_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_0098 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

The portrait is of Pia, a friend of the artist, whom he met in Ireland. Lulani says ‘he was impressed’: by her abundance of ideas, plans, dreams and enthusiasm. It was not just her physical portrait that I wanted to paint, but her energy for her life ahead.’

LAURA IN BLACK (Oil on linen). Joshua Larock (b.1982)

500_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_0917 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

He says: ‘I sought a gesture and expression, along with a subdued colour palette, that is wistful, evoking a vague but deep longing. Her gaze is direct and bold, but also distant, searching for something unknown.’

THE LAST PAINTING DREW MY INTEREST BECAUSE OF MY READING AROUND PHOTOGRAPHERS USING IMAGES TO EXPLORE IDENTITIES AND RELATIONSHIPS:

DAD SCULPTING ME (Oil on linen). Jamie Coreth (b.1989)

500_2016_bp_portrait_award_work_2062 (Npg.org.uk, 2017).

This was given the BP YOUNG ARTIST AWARD. The judges commented that “We were drawn to the timeless quality of the painting and its treatment of a father and son relationship through art. It is a generational painting of the artist’s father sculpting a portrait of the artist”.

The portrait of the artist’s father, Mark Coreth, was painted entirely from life over the course of a month in the sculptor’s studio. ‘My father has influenced me greatly in my work and given that it is a relatively strange thing for a sculptor to raise a painter, I thought it could be an interesting father–son project to make portraits of one another at the same time,’ says Coreth.

MY LEARNING POINTS:

  • To consider the importance of mobile phones and other personal technology when exploring personal identites.
  • Think about using mirrors to give different perspectives on portraits/self-portrait
  • Remember props can be used to put subjects at ease or to help to bring out elements of their characters.
  • Consider lighting and viewpoint to give the desired emphasis and effect.
  • Remember the importance of the background to give context.
  • Try to work in a short time frame to retain focus and clarity

Excerpts of the accompanying texts by kind permission of Collections access Officer, The Usher gallery Lincoln.

Reference

Npg.org.uk. (2017). BP Portrait Award 2016 – Exhibitors. [online] Available at: http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/bp2016/exhibition/exhibitors/ [Accessed 17 Apr. 2017].

Please note: Any images by other artists used on this site are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.

RESEARCH FOR PHOTOGRAPHING THE UNSEEN: PART 2

In my quest to broaden my knowledge of Photography as art and to find a platform for my growing ideas for assignment 2 “The Unseen” I have begun to research conceptual photography.

Photography as Contemporary Art evolved for the sole purpose of taking a photograph “so the act of artistic creation begins long before the camera is held in position” (Cotton 2014). The image is the work of art. Its roots were in the conceptual art of the 1960s and 70s; photography like the art where craftsmanship was less important and it could simply depict things, the act in the image being the artistic importance.

Conceptual art stresses ideas and some artists drew attention their ideas by placing a statement about the art which invites a response from viewers; rather like Sophie Calle’s “Take care of yourself” (2007) which I have previously written about in this blog (https://nkssite2.wordpress.com/category/research/a2-research/). 

Some conceptual artists use photography to represent an idea or emotion. Jeanne Dunning (b 1960) created a series of photographs where organic mass is abstracted to the point that the human subject is lost. Apparently the blob “embodies the embarrassment and vulnerability of human physicality”.

dunning

(Museum of contemporary photography 2017)

Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968

Has been called the father of conceptual art, spearheading the American Dada movement with Picabia and Man Ray challenging what Art is, “You cannot define electricity the same can be said of art. It is a kind of inner current in a human being, or something which needs no definition” (Duchamp 2017). He promoted everyday objects to art, such as the fountain, and “fashions puns out of everyday expressions which he conveyed through visual means. The linguistic dimension of his work in particular paved the way for conceptual art” (Duchamp 2017).

marcel

(Tate 1922)

Fresh Widow (1920) below is a model of a traditional French window. The title, inscribed at the base along with the words “COPYRIGHT ROSE SELAVY 1920,” is apparently a pun in the aftermath of World War I, which turned many a lusty young spouse into a widow. To signal mourning, the window panes are covered in black polished leather, which fully blocks out the view, thus disturbing the notion of painting as a window onto the world.

marcel-2

(Marcel 1935)

John Baldessari (b 1931)

I am interested in artists who combine text and images. Baldessari another pioneer of conceptual art, has an experimental approach to art “I try to give equal weight to words and image, at least when they are of equal importance to me” (Travel and Arts 2015). “Images and texts behave in similar ways – both using codes to convey their messages” ( Baldessari, no date). He is particularly interested in how text and visual messages combine, enjoying misleading, confusing, surprising and amusing his viewers to provoke their participation.

bad

Prima Facie: Intent/Concerned 2005 (Travel and Arts 2011)

His colour card series below expresses his examination of colour and image.

bad2    bad-3

Prima Facie 2005 (Travel and Arts 2011) Travel and arts (2011)

Stamberg hits the nail on the head in his article entitled “For John Baldessari, Conceptual Art Means Serious Mischief”, he says “a Baldessari makes you smile, then go … “Huh?” In his sunny studio, the artist says he’s trying to slow us down, to look in new ways” (Stamberg, 2013).

Andy Goldsworthy (b 1956)

In my foray into conceptual art I discovered that Land Art was part of the wider conceptual art movement, where “the photograph is the record, and the final product of an engagement or intervention with the rural” (Wells, 2009). Land art is art that is made directly in the landscape, sculpting the land itself into earthworks or making structures in the landscape using natural materials such as rocks or twigs. The work of Andy Goldsworthy became well known not because of his landscape work, where he uses natural materials to create an artwork, but through his photographs, which are integral to his art.

Goldsworthy photographs his work before it collapses, melts, gets washed away, or otherwise disintegrates. He says that photographing is not a casual act, the documentation does not interrupt the making, “Each work grows, stays, decays – integral parts of a cycle which the photograph shows at its height, marking the moment when the work is most alive” (Goldsworthy 1969). The photographs are not the reason but the result of his art, the “left overs” of his creative process.

There is a beauty and balance in his works and they cause you to look with fresh eyes at our environment.

(Goldsworthy, 1969)

Keith Arnatt (1930-2008) is an example of an artist who moved across the boundaries between art and photography; trained in drawing and painting, he began by exploring landscape and sculpture but in the 1970s turned to photography to manifest his conceptual ideas, he wrote, “…whatever else art is and whatever else it becomes, it is some tangible manifestation of ideas – surely that is the bottom line.” (Cited in Written and Sritharan, 2015)

He then developed a fascination with impermanence as well as the landscape and combined these ideas into other often humorous projects such as “The absence of the artist” (1968) and Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of his Former Self (1969).

Written and Sritharan, B. (2015)

I particularly like the way that Keith Arnatt portrays digging himself into a hole in “Self-burial” (1969) as a response to the metaphor.

arnot-3

Written and Sritharan, B. (2015)

The learning points that I may take from this into my next assignment are:

  •  The art of creation beginning before I hold the camera.
  • The use of everyday objects to represent an idea.
  • The power of combining text and visual messages.
  • The use of humour and “tongue in cheek” photography.
  • The photograph as a record of my engagement with art.
  • Photographing as a response to a metaphor.

 References

Andy Goldsworthy – melt (1969) Available at: http://visualmelt.com/Andy-Goldsworthy (Accessed: 4 February 2017).

Andy Goldsworthy digital catalogue: Photography (no date) Available at: http://www.goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk/photography/ (Accessed: 4 February 2017).

Baldessari, J. (no date) John Baldessari biography, art, and analysis of works. Available at: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-baldessari-john.htm (Accessed: 4 February 2017).

Cotton, C. (2014) The photograph as contemporary art. 3rd edn. London, United Kingdom: Thames & Hudson.

Duchamp, M. (2017) Marcel Duchamp biography, art, and analysis of works. Available at: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-duchamp-marcel.htm#important_art_header (Accessed: 3 February 2017).

Liz, W. (2009) Photography: A critical introduction. Edited by Liz Wells. 4th edn. New York, NY: Routledge.

Marcel, S. (1935) MARCEL DUCHAMP’S WORK. Available at: http://mediation.centrepompidou.fr/education/ressources/ENS-duchamp_en/ENS-duchamp_en.html (Accessed: 3 February 2017).

Museum of contemporary photography (2017) Available at: http://www.mocp.org/detail.php?t=objects&type=browse&f=maker&s=Dunning%2C+Jeanne&record=2 (Accessed: 16 January 2017).

Stamberg, S. (2013) For John Baldessari, conceptual Art Means serious mischief. Available at: http://www.npr.org/2013/03/11/173745543/for-john-baldessari-conceptual-art-means-serious-mischief (Accessed: 4 February 2017).

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this post are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.

EXHIBITION VISIT

Feminist Avante-Garde of the 1970s (The Photographers Gallery)

There are over 200 works of art by 48 artists, from 20 countries on display over 2 floors. This was my first visit to the photographers gallery and I liked it’s intimacy but spaciousness. The exhibition is a mixture of works by famous photographers such as Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman and Martha Rosler as well as one less familiar ones.

The exhibition addresses the female form, ownership, domesticity, sexuality, violence and female identity and is arranged in four themes: The seductive body, Domestic agenda, In my skin and Alter ego. Along with conventional photography there are exhibits of video art, photo montage and sculpture.  The exhibition is intended to reflect ‘a moment during which practices of emancipation, gender equality and civil rights protest movements became part of public discourse” (Written and Brookman, 2016). It explores the art of women “whose taboo-breaking, norm-questioning works changed the art canon forever, and opened up new ways for understanding gender, representation and sexual politics” (De Pressigny, 2016). These artists addressed political issues and challenged sexism in society and art.

Works attacking the domestic agenda were interesting and thought provoking. I was intrigued by the “semantics of the kitchen” Martha Rosler (1975) where a woman at a butchers block methodically names implements in alphabetical order, starting with a deadpan  expression “but as she demonstrates the use of each appliance her actions become increasing aggressive, suggesting murderous intent”( Güner, 2016).

rosler

(Martha Rosler, nd)

Birgit Jürgenssen’s self-portrait in a housewife’s apron, with a bored expression “redefines  the phrase ‘bun in the oven’ (Time, 2016).

birgit

(No date, 1)

Renate Eisenegger Hochhaus’s image is another attack on the domestic agenda and an interesting representation of this.

renate-1

Renate Eisenegger Hochhaus (Nr.1), 1974 © Renate Eisenegger / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Vienna (Written and Brookman 2016)

Martha Wilsons “A portfolio of models”(1974)  is descriptive but more straightforward presentation of the various roles of a woman in the 70s, where she depicts models in 6 frames as a goddess, a housewife, a working girl, a lesbian, an earth mother and a professional in their stereotypes.

There are also many humorous depictions such as Penny Slingers work “wedding invitation” (Art is just a piece of cake)

renate
(Slinger 1973, No Date 3)

An emphasis of the 70s feminist avant-garde was the female body, this decade was a time for the conceptual eradication of all that the female body had come to symbolise over thousands of years of patriarchy. I was attracted to the playful work of Katalin Landik (1978) using 6 images where a face behind a glass sheet is represented as distorted views as the subjects face presses against it.

landik

(Ltd, 2015)

This work is contrasted by Ana Mendieta’s “Untitled “ glass on body imprints face (1972 ), a similar project where her face is pressed against a glass screen but presents much  more distorted appearances; the colour in these for me gave a more violent mood to the images. It’s performance, the poses, and documentation is unsettling, “to describe the work as disquieting is an understatement” (The Photographer’s gallery, 2016).

ana

(No date, 2)

I was also struck with the “Destruction of an illusion” Karin Mack (1977) where a black and white facial image is gradually over the five frames reduced to a fragment and has pins placed in it.

ewa

(Ewa Partum, Change, 1974)

Annegret Soltau’s (1975) self-portrait in 15 frames with black thread increasingly wound around her head and shoulders is an effective way to portray a woman as distorted, My most important aim is to include bodily processes in my work and to use myself as a model – because I can go the furthest with myself,”  (Pangburn and Dazed, 2015). I found this to be rather like Renate Eiseneggar’s (1972) “isolation” in 8 frames where a head with Cotton wool and plaster tape is wrapped around them increasingly until they obscure the face.

On a slightly less disturbing level for me was Francesca Woodman’s work explores the formal and psychological potential of the body to create poetry, such as her portrait “self- deceit”.

woodman

(Francesca Woodman Self-deceit #1, Rome, Italy, 1978/1979)

 Learning points

The artists displayed were pioneers challenging depictions and ideas of women in the 1970, hence the exhibition title “Avante garde”. However to be honest as a photographer I was struck not so much by the feminist issues raised and confronted but by the variety of the ways that this was represented. This was a good lead in for me to conceptual photography where ideas are stressed rather than the subject being photographed, or through it, and where the focus is drawn to expression and interpretation. It has given me inspiration for photographing “The unseen” for assignment 2. I will reflect on the many alternative and creative ways that ideas can be represented, such representation, distortions and alternative depictions of reality, as well as using metaphors and text to underline messages.

 The exhibition will also be useful to reflect on when I am preparing for assignment 3 photographing the self.

References

De Pressigny, C. (2016) 70s avant garde feminist art show coming to London’s photographer’s gallery | read. Available at: https://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/article/70s-avant-garde-feminist-art-show-coming-to-londons-photographers-gallery (Accessed: 18 January 2017).

Ewa Partum, Change, 1974 © Ewa Partum Courtesy of Galerie M+R Fricke, Berlin / Bildrecht, Vienna, 2015 / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Vienna (Written and Brookman 2016).

Francesca Woodman Self-deceit #1, Rome, Italy, 1978/1979 © Courtesy George and Betty Woodman, New York / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien (From Written and Brookman 2016).

Güner, F. (2016) Feminist art of the 1970s: Knives, nudity and terrified men. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2016/oct/03/feminist-art-of-the-1970s-knives-nudity-and-terrified-men (Accessed: 18 January 2017).

Ltd, A. (2015) Paul Carey Kent’s Curated London Art Exhibition picks November 2015. Available at: http://www.artlyst.com/reviews/paul-carey-kents-curated-london-art-exhibition-pick-november-2015/ (Accessed: 18 January 2017).

Martha Rosler: Semiotics of the kitchen (no date) Available at: http://collection.fraclorraine.org/collection/print/469?lang=fr (Accessed: 18 January 2017).

Rosenbach, U. (no date) Penny slinger wedding invitation. Available at: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=penny+slinger+wedding+invitation&client=safari&hl=en-gb&prmd=isvn&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiR8rniyszRAhXGlxoKHRBVAIoQ_AUIBygB&biw=1024&bih=672#imgdii=JaU6BZDDqzwlXM%3A%3BCJkHWFVc-hGhjM%3A%3BCJkHWFVc-hGhjM%3A&imgrc=CJkHWFVc-hGhjM%3A (Accessed: 18 January 2017).

Pangburn, D. and Dazed (2015) The dA-zed guide to 70s feminist avant-garde art. Available at: http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/26094/1/the-da-zed-guide-to-70s-feminist-avant-garde-art (Accessed: 1 February 2017).

The Photographers gallery (2016) loose associations, vol 2 issue iv, Autumn 2016. London.

Time (2016) Feminist avant-garde of the 1970s. Available at: http://www.timeout.com/london/art/feminist-avant-garde-of-the-1970s (Accessed: 18 January 2017).

Written and Brookman, J. (2016) Images of the feminist avant-garde in the 1970s shine a light on an artistic movement too long overlooked. Available at: http://www.bjp-online.com/2016/09/images-of-the-feminist-avant-garde-in-the-1970s-shine-a-light-on-an-artistic-movement-too-long-overlooked/ (Accessed: 18 January 2017).

(No Date 1) Available at: http://www.timeout.com/london/art/feminist-avant-garde-of-the-1970 (Accessed: 18 January 2017).

(No Date 2) Available at: http://thenewinquiry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/haley-1.jpg (Accessed: 18 January 2017).

(No Date 3) Available at: https://artblart.com/tag/penny-slinger/ (Accessed: 1 February 2017).

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this post are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.

RESEARCH FOR PHOTOGRAPHING THE UNSEEN: PART 1

I am inspired by the OCA photographers in exercise 3 to photograph something unseen that is personal to me, but where else could I look for inspiration? I began to research photographers and looked for those that went beyond photography as a visible art and “began to push the boundaries of perception beyond the merely “seeable” (Mulligan, 2005).

There are photographers who challenge the viewer to read beyond the surface of the object to reveal more than the subject itself.

Minor white (1908-1976)

He was an artist, critic and the editor of Aperture magazine and promoted photography’s expressive powers and as an art form in itself. He began by photographing rural landscapes and then in the fifties he shot infrared landscapes, typified by their darkened skies and glowing grass and leaves.

white1

(Levesques, 2014)

I find him interesting as he photographed subjects “not only for what they were, but also for what they may suggest, and therefore, the images would possess symbolic and metaphorical allusions” (Levesques and hl, 2014). White said, “One should not only photograph things for what they are but for what else they are.”  (Cited in Levesques and Hl 2014). His early photographs sometimes include these allusions, such as Cabbage Hill, Oregon, (below), where a corner of a split-rail fence and a coil of barbed wire gives associations with hard physical labour as well as Christ’s suffering on the cross.

cabbage-hill-m-white

(Princeton, 2016)

I am drawn to the way that his images cause you to reflect, perhaps looking for their meaning, such as the haunting image of the bout hull partially covered in snow, you definitely need to look closely at his images. A sense of spirituality runs through his works and it seems that he “took the view that photography was well suited to disclosing the artist’s inner life” (Mulligan, 2005).

Essence of a Boat, Lanesville, Massachusetts 1967

Essence of Boat, Lanesville, Massachusetts, 1967 ((Pleasurephoto, 2013)

References

Levesque, D. and hl, (2014) ‘“Minor white: Manifestations of the spirit” at the Getty · guardian Liberty Voice’, Arts, 23 June. Available at: http://guardianlv.com/2014/06/minor-white-manifestations-of-the-spirit-at-the-getty/ (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

Limited, P.P. and Jeffrey, I. (1997) The photography book. London: Phaidon Press.

Mulligan, T. (2005) A history of photography: From 1839 to the present; the George Eastman house collection. Edited by Therese Mulligan and David Wooters. 25th edn. Köln, Germany: Taschen GmbH.

Pleasurephoto, © (2013) Photo minor white; Lanesville, Massachusetts, 1967 essence of a boat. Available at: https://pleasurephotoroom.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/photo-minor-white-lanesville-massachusetts-1967-essence-of-a-boat/ (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

Princeton, T. of (2016) DART » minor words: Photography and writing. Available at: http://www.ai-ap.com/publications/article/10940/minor-words-photography-and-writing.html (Accessed: 11 January 2017)

Princeton, T. of (no date) Early career: 1937–45. Available at: https://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/minor_white/ (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

Carl Chiarenza (b 1935)

His work shows the spiritual influence of his teacher Minor White, He began with tightly framed, documentary-style photographs, abstract and landscapes. Since 1979 he has been photographing collages out of scraps of paper, foil, can lids, etc., then photographing the collages with Polaroid positive/negative film in black and white.

chiarenza

Samurai 329, 1999 (Shutterbug TEN, 2016).

His unique images using light, shapes, forms, and surfaces, encourage the viewer to let their imagination do all the interpretation. In common with other photographers such as Ansel Adams, and Aaron Siskind found a metaphorical relationship between music and photography.  He stated that “while making the images for my book, Solitudes, I listened over and over to pianist Mitsuko Uchida playing Mozart’s sonatas because they put me into a spectacular solitary place, which pervades the studio and hopefully influences the work”. (RH, 2009). He has said that Minor taught him that you can create images with passion as a poet would with imagery or musician with imagery. Chiarenza is interested in “how, when it all comes together into a new object, ‘a picture,’ the creation causes a response that excites a genuinely real, fresh experience that did not exist before the photograph. I want the viewer to experience it in any way he or she connects.” (Cited in Shutterbug TEN, 2016).

chiarenza3

Marble Madonna, Ipswich, 1960 (RH, 2009)

References

2009, R.H. (2009) Light research: Articles. Available at: http://lightresearch.net/interviews/Chiarenza.html (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

Shutterbug TEN (2016) The work of Carl Chiarenza: Bringing art to photography. Available at: http://www.shutterbug.com/content/work-carl-chiarenza-bringing-art-photography#DBqf357kDip0ff5V.97 (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

Ralph Gibson (b 1939)

I discovered Gibson when reading in A history of photography “a similar world of unseen meaning permeates Ralph Gibson’s “snake around Mans neck” (Mulligan, 2005). Unfortunately I can’t show the image but the snake and a human head viewed from above create an abstract pattern.

He was mentored by Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank but his work took on surrealistic influences. He is also inspired by music. Gibson publishes his work in book form. He creates fiction and abstracts with the simple objects and believes an individualistic style is important for a photographer, he describes his own as:

“I love taking pictures of nothing, of ordinary objects, maybe even just the corner of a room. I love flattening and even reducing things. When I photograph flesh, I like to make it look like a stone. But, when I am photographing a stone, I like to make it look alive. I love re-contextualising the quality of my subjects.” (Gajria, 2011). I do like the simplicity of his images “In a world of infinite myriad possible objects to photograph, I eliminate everything I don’t want in a frame until I’m finally left with what I do want,,,I call this process subtractive” (Photographer, 2014). Following my tutors recent comments I would do well to try this technique. He also uses shadow to hide unwanted detail and create shape that he needs to make a “point of departure”, an unusual point of interest or perspective in an ordinary object.

raplph-gibson
“Priest Collar’, 1975. ‘This remains one of my most important images,’ (Photographer, 2014)

The photograph below shows how he builds narrative meaning through contextualization and surreal juxtaposition. He says about the image “I thought of the woman speaking across time and distance”. (Photographer, 2014).

gibson

(Photographer, 2014)

Learning points I may use in my assignment:

  •  Photographing subjects not for what they are but for what they might suggest.
  • Creating an image that causes a response in the viewer.
  • Eliminating everything that you don’t want in a frame.
  • Being able to use show to hide unwanted detail or to create shape.
  • Building narrative meaning by recontextualising.

 References

Gajria, C. (2011) Ralph Gibson. Available at: http://betterphotography.in/perspectives/great-masters/ralph-gibson/596/ (Accessed: 13 January 2017).

Mulligan, T. (2005) A history of photography: From 1839 to the present; the George Eastman house collection. Edited by Therese Mulligan and David Wooters. 25th edn. Köln, Germany: Taschen GmbH.

Photographer, A. (2014) Icons of photography – Iconic photographer Ralph Gibson 1939 – present. Available at: http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/iconic-images/icons-of-photography-iconic-photographer-ralph-gibson-1939-present-5981 (Accessed: 13 January 2017).

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this post are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.

RESEARCH POINT: CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHIC PRACTICE

Research point

Examples of relay in contemporary photographic practice include Sophie Calle’s Take Care of Yourself and Sophy Rickett’s Objects in the Field, where clashes of understanding or interpretation work together to create a perhaps incomplete but nonetheless enriching dialogue between artist and viewer.

Look these pieces up online. Investigate the rationale behind the pieces and see if you can find any critical responses to them. Write down your own responses in your learning log. How do these two pieces of work reflect postmodern approaches to narrative?

Postmodernist art was a reaction against modernist art which had dominated since the 20th century, it began in the late 1960s and though hard to classify it includes conceptual, neo-expressionism, and feminist art. It “ advocates that individual experience and interpretation of our experience is more concrete than abstract principles…While the modernists championed clarity and simplicity; postmodernism embraces complex and often contradictory layers of meaning” (Koons, 2006). Postmodern photography often recombines elements outside of photography, such as videos or texts, intertextuality. It can be characterised by unusual or controversial combinations of subjects or even the absence of subjects.

Sophie Calle – Take care of yourself

The artist Sophie Calle received the following break up letter from her boyfriend:

6a00d8341c76e453ef00e551f1f63b8834-800wi(Available at Anon, 2010)

Sophie,
I have been meaning to write and reply to your last email for a while. At the same time,
I thought it would be better to talk to you and tell you what I have to say outloud.
Still, at least it will be written.
As you have noticed, I have not been quite right recently. As if I no longer recognized myself
in my own existence. A terrible feeling of anxiety, which I cannot really fight, other than
keeping on going to try and overtake it, as I have always done. When we met, you laid down
one condition: not to become the “fourth”. I stood by that promise: it has been months
now since I have seen the “others, “because I obviously could find no way of seeing them
without makeing you one of them.
I thought that would be enough, I thought that loving you and your love would be enough so that
this anxiety – which constantly drives me to look further afield and which meens that I will never
feel quiet and at rest or probably even just happy or “generous”-would be calmed when I was
with you, with the certainty that the love you have for me was the best for me, the best I have
ever had, you know that. I thought that my writing would be a remedy, that my “disquiet” would
dissolve into it so that I could find you. But no in fact it even became worse, I cannot even
tell you the sort of state I feel I am in. so I started calling the “others” again this week.
And I know what that means to me and the cycle that it will drag me into.
I have never lied to you and I do not intend to start lying now.
There was another rule that you laid down at the beginning of our affair: the day we
stopped being lovers you would no longer be able to envisage seeing me. You know this
constraint can only ever strike me as disastrous, and unjust (when you still see B. and K. …)
and understandable (obviously…); so I can never become your friend.
But now you can gauge how significant my decision is from the fact that I am prepared to bend
to your will, even though there are so many things – not seeing you or talking to you or catching
the way you look at people and things, and your gentleness towards me – that I will miss terribly.
Whatever happens, remember that I will always love you in the same way, my own way, that I have
ever since I first met you; that it will carry on within me and, I am sure, will never die.
But it would be the worst kind of masquerade to prolong a situation now when you know
as well as I do; it has become irreparable by the standards of the very love I have for you and
you have for me a love which is now forcing me to be so frank with you, as final proof of what
happened between us and will always be unique. 

I would have liked things to have turned out differently.
Take care of yourself.
X ”

She subsequently asked 107 women of different professions to analysis and respond to it as a way of taking care of herself.  “It was set to music, re-ordered by a crossword-setter, performed by an actress, and probed by a forensic psychiatrist, amongst others” (Venice Biennle, 2007). This formed her work “Take care of yourself” an exhibition of portraits of the respondents and their interpretations, organised in 5 different media sets: textual, parchment, portraits, small films and large films. I have not seen this exhibition so have trailed the internet for responses from those who have.  Ceci Moss indicates some of the other interpretations in the work as a clairvoyant’s response to a scientific study, and a children’s fairytale, and describes the body of work as “a virtual chorus of women’s interpretations and assessment of a break up letter” (Moss, ND). Another who viewed her work says:

 The ex’s grammar and syntax have been torn apart by a copy editor, his manners rubbished by an etiquette consultant and his lines pored over by Talmudic scholars. He has been re-ordered by a crossword-setter, evaluated by a judge, shot up by a markswoman, second-guessed by a chess player and performed by actress Jeanne Moreau. A forensic psychiatrist decided he was a “twisted manipulator” ( Chrisafis, 2007).

The variety of responses and the in depth analyses of the breakup letter certainly make you aware of the importance of text and subtext.

Postmodern techniques include using parts of other texts, open-ended plots and endings. Their experimental nature mean that authors to let go of their control and allow viewers to put themselves into the story. So yes this work is Post modernist.

img_2523(Available at Anon, 2010)

Sophy Rickett – Objects in a field (can be seen at: The Photographers Gallery (2014) Sophy Rickett – objects in the field. Available at: https://thephotographersgalleryblog.org.uk/2014/03/19/sophy-rickett-objects-in-the-field/ (Accessed: 24 December 2016).

Whilst resident artist at The institute of astrology, University of Cambridge (IoA) she produced a body of work based on negatives previously taken by the scientist/astrologer Dr Wilstrop, “ appropriating the lexicon used by astronomers and astrophysicists that refers to stars as “objects” and to the sky as “the field” (Rickett, ND).  She collaborated with Dr Wilstrop combining his factual information and her own poetic diary. It combines several series of photographs (hand reprinted negatives altered by her aesthetic decisions), a video and an essay (a factual description of their meetings melted with subjective impressions around optics from her childhood). The exhibition is juxtaposed on the Museum’s staircase with historical observatory instruments.

mhs_oitf_01                                                             (Available at Johnston 2014)

This work “explores the connections between optics and seeing, the shift from analogue to digital, relationships between different kinds of photographic practice and the encounter between an individual and an institution, between an artist and a scientist” (Anon, 2016).

observation-123                                                                   (From Johnston 2014)

The narratives are sometimes contradictory and I find the interplay between them jarring. I do feel that she has maintained control as the author, although as the viewer has to participate in the interpretation and there is clear intertextuality where she connects two unrelated subjects (astrological images and her own optical experiences)I would conclude that it is postmodernist photography. I found it difficult to find other critical responses to her work though there is an interview with her by Sharon Boothroyd at: https://photoparley.wordpress.com/category/sophy-rickett/ (Accessed: 24 December 2016).

References

Anon. (2016)Exhibition & talk: Sophy Rickett, objects in the field on the shutter hub Blog (2016) Available at: https://shutterhub.org.uk/blog/exhibition-and-talk-sophy-rickett-objects-in-the-field (Accessed: 24 December 2016). 

Anon (2010) Ears are burning. Available at: https://earsareburning.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/sophie-calle-talking-to-strangers-whitechapel-gallery/

Chrisafis, A. (2007) He loves me not. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/jun/16/artnews.art (Accessed: 24 December 2016).

Johnston, S. (2014) Sophy Rickett: Objects in the Field. Avaalable at: https://blogs.mhs.ox.ac.uk/insidemhs/sophy-rickett-objects-field/ (Accessed:24 December 2016).

Koons, J. (2006) Postmodernism. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/p/postmodernism (Accessed: 26 December 2016).

Moss, C. (no date) Take care of yourself (2007) – Sophie Calle. Available at: http://rhizome.org/editorial/2009/jul/02/take-care-of-yourself-2007-sophie-calle/

Sophy Rickett – objects in the field (no date) Available at: http://www.grimaldigavin.com/article/sophy-rickett-objects-in-the-field (Accessed: 24 December 2016).

Venice Biennale: Sophie Calle (2007) Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/venice-biennale-sophie-calle (Accessed: 24 December 2016).

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this site are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.

RESEARCH: TWO SIDES OF THE STORY

Two sides of the story

I searched for inspiration other than those studied during the exercises in this module but struggled. I looked at urban decay photography, which is interesting, but the majority of these images are interiors whilst mine would be exteriors; although it does ally itself with aftermath photography which I like. I returned eventually to photographers I had explored when visiting the Strange and Familiar exhibition (March 2016) showcasing international photographers images of Britain. However most of the images I’d seen there contained people and I thought mine would not. I did revisit the images of Candida Hofer of buildings in Liverpool using clean graphic lines and interesting perspective, the colourful shop front images of Jim Dow, the angled lines and abrupt framing of Sergio Iarrain and the diagonals and upright lines of Garry Winogrand. I also drew on my observations after the William Eggleston exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (October 2016) that I would consider using more unusual compositions and use of space in a frame, leading lines and colourful objects set against dull backgrounds. (Link to write up: https://nkssite2.wordpress.com/category/research-reflection/exhibitions-books/)

I found the work of the following photographers helpful:

Stephen Shore (B. 1047)

I returned to the work and writings of Stephen Shore who I had discovered when studying Expressing Your Vision. Shore made several road trips across the states where he shot roadside architecture in colour. His book Uncommon places (Shore 1984) proved that colour was essential “by creating composition of mindboggling complexity and brilliance” (Golden, 2013). Shore rather like Eggleston “shot the commonplace and made it suddenly arresting” (O’Hagan, 2015).

In Shores images I was able to see exteriors of buildings and streets presented with an interesting way of looking.

shore-1

https://fotocolectania.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/stephen-shore.jpg (Accessed 30.10.16)

 

shore-2

http://www.phaidon.com/resource/shore-1.jpg (Accessed 30.10.16)

It was also good to remind myself of his writings in The Nature of Photographs: A Primer (Shore, 2010). I like the way he describes how a photographer gives structure to a photograph on the depictive level by time, frame, flatness and focus. I realise that I do now change my vantage point as I compose to change the relationships within the frame. However it reminded me that the framing would be vital in these images to convey the correct context and narrative and should be “active” containing all the information needed by the viewer. It was stimulating to remind myself of these things although I felt that I would need to be less experimental in order to present the context and narrative for my documentary photos.

 Walker Evans (1903-1975)

He was a forerunner of American documentary photography, photographing the ordinary “creating an encyclopaedic visual catalogue of modern America in the making” (Walker Evans, 2000). He portrayed American life factually through individual portraits, surveys of buildings, signs, advertising, cars and domestic interiors. Walker Evans contributed more than 400 photos to article in Fortune Magazine using a standard journalistic picture-story format. His images of the Great Depression did more than hold a mirror up “no mirror ever made, after all, could so clearly reflect what he saw, and wanted others to see” (Cosgrove, 2012), he certainly gave a clear and unadorned documentary vision of his subjects.

Many of his photographs of buildings are shot straight on, perhaps this was a style I could try for my documentary photos:

walker-evans-1

https://www.moma.org/collection/works/52683?locale=en (Accessed 30.10.16)

This picture illustrates how his heighted attention on a part of a photograph gives the image the appearance of a collage.

walker-evans-2

Gas station, Reedsville, West Virginia, 1936 http://www.brianrose.com/journal/evans_gas_station.jpg (accessed 30.10.16)

In order to understand my subject the local area of Cardigan, I additionally did much reading around local news especially on housing and welfare and these are included in my bibliography. One story that particularly struck me was  the article on the increasing number of charity shops, their exemption from business rates and that it is unfair “as it’s not a level playing field” as other high street businesses have higher costs (Robinson, 2015).

References

Cosgrove, B. (2012) “American photographs” by Walker Evans. Available at: http://time.com/50857/walker-evans-american-photographs/ (Accessed: 30 October 2016).

Golden, R. (2013) Masters of photography. 3rd edn. London: Sterling Pub Co.

O’Hagan, S. (2015b) Shady character: How Stephen Shore taught America to see in living colour. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/jul/09/stephen-shore-america-colour-photography-1970s (Accessed: 31 October 2016).

Robinson, H. (2015) “Concern” as tenth charity shop opens in cardigan. Available at: http://www.tivysideadvertiser.co.uk/news/13624531._Concern__as_tenth_charity_shop_opens_in_Cardigan/?ref=mr&lp=3 (Accessed: 25 October 2016).

Shore, S. (1984) Uncommon places. New York: Aperture,N.Y.

Shore, S. (2010) The nature of photographs: A primer. 2nd edn. new York: Phaidon Press.

Walker Evans (1903–1975) | essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of art history | the metropolitan museum of art (2000) Available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/evan/hd_evan.htm (Accessed: 30 October 2016).

Bibliography

Dunlap, D.W. (2009) Behind the scenes: Edgar Martins speaks. Available at: http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/behind-10/ (Accessed: 24 October 2016).

2015 (2006a) Aberteifi/cardigan – Teifi, Ceredigion – neighbourhood profile – schools – house prices – council tax – gas / electricity prices. Available at: http://www.uklocalarea.com/index.php?q=Aberteifi%2FCardigan+-+Teifi&wc=00NQNT (Accessed: 25 October 2016).

Information and maps of walks in the cardigan area and beyond (no date) Available at: http://www.visitcardigan.com/cardigan-tourist-information/walking-in-the-cardigan-area (Accessed: 25 October 2016).

The Guardian (2013) UK seaside resorts in decline – in pictures. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/gallery/2013/aug/06/uk-seaside-resorts-decline-in-pictures (Accessed: 26 October 2016).

(2016) A tax on outsiders, or sensible bid to tackle housing crisis? Available at: http://www.cardigan-today.co.uk/article.cfm?id=104688&headline=A%20tax%20on%20outsiders,%20or%20sensible%20bid%20to%20tackle%20housing%20crisis?&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2016 (Accessed: 25 October 2016).

Mathew Merrett (no date) Available at: http://thephotomat.smallfolio.com/#galleries/decay/urban-decay (Accessed: 26 October 2016).

Rossington, B. and Miller, C. (2016) The most deprived places have been revealed – how does your area compare? Available at: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/10-worst-deprived-places-england-6548105 (Accessed: 25 October 2016).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part One The photograph as document

Project 3 Reportage

Research point

Do some research into contemporary street photography. Helen Levitt, Joel Meyerowitz, Paul Graham, Joel Sternfeld and Martin Parr are some good names to start with, but you may be able to find further examples for yourself.

  • What difference does colour make to a genre that traditionally was predominantly black and white?

Colour and the street

Street photography began life in black and white, in an age when colour photography was deemed unrealistic because it carried connotations of advertising. Henri Cartier- Bresson, Eve Arnold, Robert Frank and Walker Evans, amongst many others, paved the way for reportage to be used in an artistic way, with no functional purpose other than to tell viewers about life from the point of view of the photographer. As colour photography began to be accepted as an art form in the late twentieth century, street photography followed suit.

Martin Parr (b 1952)

A UK photojournalist who uses heightened colour photography in an almost surreal sense and has said “you either get my photography or you don’t” (Golden, 2013). He “has consistently tested the boundaries of documentary style” (Cotton, 2014) sometimes using a handheld camera with flashlight combined with a macro lens to focus close up on a subject. He uses humour to convey consumerism as a visual language and is known for capturing the essence of Britishness especially in his documentary series The Last Resort (mid 80’s) where he portrayed Thatcherite Brighton.

I saw some of his work first hand when I visited his exhibition Unseen (Guildhall art gallery London, 4 March – 31 July 2016). He used his unprecedented access to high-profile occasions (as the City of London’s photographer-in-residence) to shoot behind the scene images of the pomp and glory in the city of London such as private ceremonies, dignitaries and Banquets. Katherine Pearce, Curator at Guildhall Art Gallery says: “Parr reveals the ‘unseen’, literally and metaphorically. He pays attention to detail and spots things that make you think again about what you’re seeing.” (Pearce, 2016).

I particularly liked the unusual viewpoints that he used such as this image shot from behind the queen, and the way he captures impromptu moments.

martin-parr-queen

Martin Parr 2014 (Kallaway 2016b)

martin-parr-officials

Martin Parr 2014 (Kallaway 2016b)

He presents the city and its rituals in a variety of ways, such as fun, as boring, as incomprehensible. I actually wondered if he was “taking the mickey” out of the ceremonies and traditions in the way he presents them without any reverence, but then maybe that’s just his way?

Joel Sternfield (b 1944)

He was one of the pioneers of colour photography known for large-format images that capture the American roadside. His body of work On This Site: Landscapes in Memoriam (1966), at first sight seem to be random locations and yet it transpires that these were all previous crime scenes. He applies his studied observation of colour to the everyday he found as he travels taking full length photographs of people where “Each picture tells a story via the person’s physical appearance and the rich details of their surroundings” (Sternfield cited in Getty, nd). These portraits “propose the facts of what has transpired” (Cotton, 2014).

 Interestingly whilst researching Sternfield I came across the story of this photograph which interests me particularly in light of my earlier research into objectivity in photography.

sternfield

  (Sternfield 1978)

In the photo you see a fireman buying pumpkins whilst a fire crew fight a fire in the house behind. On first sight you might think the fireman was being negligent however it transpires that this was a training exercise which the fireman was on a break from. The photograph was apparently the most iconic image of his career, though published without captions other than location and date, “if this picture is deceptive, it’s only because we’ve deceived ourselves” (Keats, 2012).

Joel Meyerowitz (b 1938)

Is a street, Landscape and portrait photographer, influenced originally by Robert Frank. During the 1960s he worked in black and white with 35mm cameras looking for the extraordinary on the streets. In the 1970s he used colour in revolutionary way with larger cameras; he said that the small camera “taught me energy and decisiveness and immediacy… the large camera taught me reverence, patience, and meditation” (cited in Mulligan, 2005). Apparently he learnt that with so much action on the streets he just had to shoot and later discuss and think about the photos. “A lot of what I am looking for is astonishment” he says (cited in O’Hagan, 2012).

He is probably best known for his 9/11 photos Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive (2006), the only photographer allowed onto the site immediately afterwards; the US Government later mounted exhibitions using his work.

I can identify with his feeling that colour gives him the sensation of things, a richness and more description. “If photography is about describing things, then colour describes them more” (cited in Louise, 2012). I also like the way that he describes a body of work as a building block of visual language “These pictures are all little gestural elements that don’t necessarily add-up on their own to anything profound, … they have to be interesting and interlocking in a way that you could fuse them in runs… to be stating a sort of collective of ideas into one thing that will carry the reader along”. (2point8, nd).

  He describes his use of context and relationships in images well. I found his reasoning for using a Leica as opposed to a single lens reflex (SLR) camera very interesting, as I had never thought about and SLR as being one eye, whereas with the Leica you have one eye in the camera and one outside due to the positioning of the viewfinder, so that you see the world and its context.  He explains “What you put in the frame determines the photograph… what you put in and where you cut the rest of the 360 degreesas the world continues outside of the frame; so what you put in and what you leave out are what determines the meaning, potential of your photograph” (YouTube, 2012). Certainly his photographs’ suggest relationships not representing objects.

 Paul Graham (b.1956)

Is an English documentary photographer, who was one of the first to photograph documentary in colour. He believes that photographs are subtle and deserve to be looked at with respect. He likes to uncover things that people might miss. His series A1- The Great North Road (1083) is one example of ordinary places, in this case on an arterial road.

paul-graham

(Coomes 2011)

This and other of his eighties work enforced the importance of using colour in documentary photography to expand its visual message. “The photography I most respect pulls something out of the ether of nothingness…it is a shimmer of possibility” (cited in O’Hagan, 2011). He says that when he takes photographs he is questioning how we photograph the world and asking what is the world like?

References

Coomes, P. (2011) Paul Graham: Photographs 1981-2006. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-13133461 (Accessed: 17 October 2016).

Cotton, C. (2014) The photograph as contemporary art. 3rd edn. London, United Kingdom: Thames & Hudson.

Golden, R. (2013) Masters of photography. 3rd edn. London: Sterling Pub Co.

Getty museum (n,d). Joel Sternfeld. Available at: http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/artists/3731/joel-sternfeld-american-born-1944/ (Accessed: 17 October 2016).

Kallaway (2016a) Guildhall Art Gallery. Available at: http://mediacentre.kallaway.com/guildhall-art-gallery/image-library/unseen-city-photos-by-martin-parr (Accessed: 17 October 2016).

Kallaway (2016b) Unseen city: Photos by Martin Parr. Available at: http://mediacentre.kallaway.com/guildhall-art-gallery/press-releases/unseen-city-photos-by-martin-parr (Accessed: 17 October 2016).

 Keats, J. (2012) Do not trust this Joel Sternfeld photograph. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathonkeats/2012/09/06/do-not-trust-this-joel-sternfeld-photograph/#50225726b22f (Accessed: 17 October 2016).

Louise (2012) Joel Meyerowitz: Icon with a Leica – the Leica camera Blog. Available at: http://blog.leica-camera.com/2012/04/02/joel-meyerowitz-icon-with-a-leica/ (Accessed: 17 October 2016).

Mulligan, T. (2005) A history of photography: From 1839 to the present; the George Eastman house collection. Edited by Therese Mulligan and David Wooters. 25th edn. Köln, Germany: Taschen GmbH.

Pearce, K (2006) cited in: Kallaway (2016) Unseen city: Photos by Martin Parr available at: http://mediacentre.kallaway.com/guildhall-art-gallery/press-releases/unseen-city-photos-by-martin-parr. (Accessed 17.10.16).

 You tube (2012) Joel Meyerowitz –‘What you put in the frame determines the photograph. Available at: http://youtu.be/Xumo7_JUeMo (Accessed 17.10.16)

2point8 (n, d) Available at: http://2point8.whileseated.org/2007/12/03/joel-meyerowitz-interview-part-1/ (Accessed: 17 October 2016b).

Bibliography

Another mag (n,d) Available at: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/8073/martin-parrs-last-resort (Accessed: 17 October 2016a).