Reflection: Artist Statement/critical Rationale

I came away from these tutorials  with the understanding that my artist statement needed a little reworking. It is a little didactic; I am telling my audience too much. I am telling the viewer  how to look at the work and what they should think. It is a challenge; I need to make decisions for this text and title. I realise I have to tread carefully, giving information but not giving too much information. I want to encourage the viewer to think, without spelling it out to them.  I do not want to close off the audiences engagement, the process of absorbing and thinking about my work.

I have a great draft to rework; I just need to loosen up my writing a little bit. I am contemplating using a quote from one of my relatives. It is a project about memory and history so it is important to know who has said this quote, his full name.

It is not my responsibility to tell the view of how they should be thinking or feeling. It is my responsibility to plant seeds. In my writing I need to think about how I can be subtler, indicating that it is a personal project about my family.  I can do this by using the quote. I need to think about how I can make my writing a little bit more open.

(Below you can read the FINAL Artist Statement that will appear in the catalogue and at the exhibition.)

DSC_0059

 

‘One of the Few Left Now’

“I am 79, and my brother is 82; we must be one of the few left now that can talk about their experiences in India” (Malcolm Heppolette).

 

‘One of the Few Left Now’ explores Anglo Indian cultural memories that are becoming lost and fragmented. This work seeks to explore my own heritage; it has taken me on a journey, from hazy memories of many generations to reconnecting with a lost family past through a process of portraiture, collections of memorabilia, stories, artifacts and histories.

 

This work celebrates my Anglo Indian ancestry, a dissolving culture that I wish to draw attention to, through a narrative platform where culture, history and stories can be explored.

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Reflection: ‘Inside/Out’ by Abigail Solomon-Godeau

‘Inside/Out’ by Abigail Solomon-Godeau

I read a summary of Abigail Solomon-Godeau’s ‘Inside/Out’ in Ashley la Grange’s ‘Basic Critical Theory for Photographers’(La Grange 2005), to further my understanding on different approaches of photographers and the impact on the viewer.

Solomon-Godeau noticed that in Sontag’s, ‘On Photography’, Sontag mentions that there are photographers who approach in such a way that it objectifies people. This then hinders the viewer from feeling sympathy or understanding for the subject. Sontag sees Diane Arbus as this style of photographer. For some photographers the camera is a barrier between them and their subject, allowing them to photograph, but not interfere, or get involved. Many theorists, such as Sontag believe this is a bad approach to photography, as this also separates the viewer from feeling empathy.

Solomon- Godeau also explores Martha Rosler’s, ‘In, Around and After Thoughts’, this explores how the power of the photographer can effect the subject, taking away their power. Rosler refers to this as ‘victim photography’, an outsider approach. A way to counter this would be to give the participant a way to self-present themselves. I realise that even though I am an insider of my family, I may not fully understand the Anglo Indian diaspora as I did not experience it myself. For this reason, I have given my participants a voice. The audio allows them to represent themselves; the viewer listens to their words. I also asked my participant about what objects they held onto that represents our Anglo Indian past. I was careful to give my participants power, as I am aware of the issues surrounding objectification. My aim is to produce a piece where the audience understand and empathise with the subject of my work. My intention is to celebrate the cultural journey of discovery, from a fragmented past.

Although many photographers deal with similar issues when photographing society, the approach they take can completely change the outcome. For example, Nan Goldin’s work, her participants are her family, something she is a part of. They see the camera as part of her, she isn’t a voyeur, and she is a part of it, even turning the camera on herself. She does not distance herself from her subject, or use the camera as a boundary. I feel that my photographical approach is similar, I have not distanced myself from my Anglo Indian heritage, instead I am involving myself in it, a journey of discovery. I too plan to be in my photographs, I do not see myself as separate, but a ‘we’. This is a project about my discovery and our families Anglo Indian past, celebrating its memories, something to keep hold of, not to be lost.

References:

La Grange, A. (2005) Basic Critical Theory For Photographers. Oxford: Elsevier Focal Press

Wasma Mansour and Dalia Khamissey: Reflection

https://archive.org/details/WasmaMansour

https://archive.org/details/DaliaKhamissy281013

Thoughts…

 

Having listened to both Wasma Mansour’s interview about her “Single Saudi Women” project and Dalia Khamissy’s interview about her work “The Missing”, ‘which focuses on the 17,000 people who went missing during the 1975 -1990 Lebanese civil war.’ (Phonar). I realise that our work as photographers is so important; we need to add something to the debates of the world. Our works can bring changes, and raise awareness.

It is imperative that we show our subjects story how they want to show it. It is the collaborative part of the work that makes it successful. Mansour shows a Polaroid print to her subject whilst shooting, asking them about how they would like to be shown and what degree of visibility they are comfortable with. This is particularly important in Saudi Arabia as women do not reveal their identities to the public; therefore it was important for her to talk to her subjects and ask about what they were comfortable with. As a photographer we have to gain our subjects trust. I believe that collaborating with your subject allow for a deeper level of trust. This reminds me of Anthony Luvera’s assisted self portraits.

Mansour used a credible witness by proxy, by having someone to talk to the subjects and vouch for her the trust relationship developed from there. I realise that meeting subjects in a neutral place, such as a coffee shop at first may be a good place to start. Mansour believes in talking about the project in this neutral place and then waiting to be welcomed to the subject’s homes. As a photographer we should allow the participants to talk and share their story and after we have heard their story the photography comes afterwards. Our photography is always linked to the triad relationship of the photographer, subject and audience. We have to be careful not to miss-represent the story of our subject. We should prioritise the participant, letting them lead.

Dalia Khamissy understands the context of living in a war zone; in photography context is key. Khamissy has lived through the civil war in Lebanon. She believes that Photography is about your personal research; this links to Tod Papageorge” If your photographs aren’t good enough, your not reading enough”.

Khamissy wanted to tell the stories of people. “The Missing” project was a collaborative project with the mothers. Telling the story of the missing is a difficult story to tell. The people who are behind the civil war are still in power; could this put the subjects and her in a difficult situation? The narrative of the civil war hasn’t yet been written yet, they cannot teach it, because they haven’t decided yet. She is trying to use the narrative as a nature for change; she wants the people of Lebanon and the outside to see this; this links to how Fred Ritchin sees the role of photography, as a tool for change.

Khamissy’s advice to photographers was to know that as photographers we should feel privileged. We are privileged that this person is letting us tell their stories. We should show respect for the people we are documenting. It is so important to tell the story as it is. I shall take away all of these lessons from both Khamissy and Mansour and use their advice in my work.

Professional Practice Diary: East Surrey College Day 4

On my fourth day (Monday 31st March 2014) I was with both years of the National Diploma. Today it was important to see how projects were developing as it is the last week before Easter. Whilst Dom took the students off for one to one tutorials I carried on working my way round the class giving my advice on their projects. It is great to see how their projects are developing and growing. As part of my role I tried to make sure that each student had a plan for the next few weeks that they have off; planned shoots, locations and style ideas etc.

 

In our break Dom went over the marking criteria again with me, discussing how he gives student feedback. Again he reiterated the importance of illustrating that you have read their projects through thoroughly and show this in the marking. I feel that its necessary to demonstrate with examples how you have marked their work, and what exactly it was that they did that gained them the point on the marking criteria. This is critical so that they can use this feedback in future projects.

Pete Brook lecture with #picbod

vimeo.com/36534353

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/36534353″>Pete Brook: Prison Photography and Self Representation</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user5892561″>CU Photography</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Pete Brook

Prison Photography

http://prisonphotography.org/pete-brook/

https://twitter.com/brookpete

Alyse Emdur

-mural painting in prisons

-these spaces aren’t a night gesture, they are as security measure

– a camera is a security issue

relating to her work:

-a company who will pay to remove the prisoners from the prison backdrops

-so that they don’t appear in the backdrops supplied by the prison as a security measure (may be a recognised backdrop of a prison)

-varying backdrops in the prisons, perhaps even painted by the prisoners, however many of the prisoners families prefer to recreate the backgrounds using this company

-first time to self represent after the mug shot.

Self representations and issues behind sending your family photos.