William Eggleston – looked at in the course materials as one photographer who could use everyday items to suggest the presence of people without having people in the frame. They used the child’s trike made large in the frame. He loved road signs and store signage. Mundane things that caught his eye. Photographing the mundane and the ugly. Bright colours.
Lost and Found, the culmination of road trips over many years.
http://www.artnet.com/artists/william-eggleston/untitled-key-sign-from-lost-and-found-a-QdCA9z6DvxzdFLiIuVF_MQ2 reminds me of driving across Utah and seeing a sign in the middle of nowhere for something hundreds of miles away. I had this in mind for another incarnation of the assignment following the M5 southbound from my old hometown of Birmingham to my new hometown of Torquay. In the end I decided to go with the idea of benches and flowers in an exploration of how we keep tabs on our past.
On how people see the benches. People can get very upset if flowers are removed and yet this is a public place not a shrine.
a council tried to ban them!
Derek – He wanted to scatter the ashes of his mother in the woods on Dartmoor. They asked permission which was granted so they went ahead, put flowers on bushes and decorated the surrounding area. The Park Ranger told them that they were free to do that but everything would be removed the following day. Derek said it made them feel closer to his mother and designated a place that would be about her even if there were no other markers. Maybe there is something of that in me too as I am taking the ashes of my parents to Scotland to scatter them there. However there is something of the “what do I do with these?” and putting them in the garden does not seem quite right. The flowers that decorate bushes etc are transient.
Jerry – a friend of mine has a bench in memory of his mother. He used to go there a lot to sit there but not so much now. It was more for his children and the other grandchildren who could have somewhere positive to go. I was interested whether he had put flowers on it, he said never as couldn’t see the point. The point of the bench was to have somewhere to be quiet. It’s a way of connecting with the person who has gone before us. Perhaps it is also a place to find some quiet in a busy life.
So why something so public? Why not go for a gravestone as was traditional, somewhere with a name and date and a physical thing to visit. Is it because we have moved away from religion and now we need something that is more normal?
Another suggestion from my tutor to expand my knowledge of artists who were altering photographs through different practices. In this article she talks about using archetypal portrait shots from the 1940s to 1970s so that there is space around them and they are divorced from any background, allowing her to stamp another meaning on them. Also:
“Found objects start the conversation. I think that perhaps the fact that I use actual photographs in my work (at a time when photography itself is taking on a new dimension – particularly with the sharing culture of social media) has highlighted the nostalgia of the photograph as object. How great to have all ones photos on file, ready to crop, colour adjust and post online in a few seconds. But I miss my old photo albums and the paraphernalia that went with them. The guillotine, glue, corners, hand written notations and ‘stuff’ (pressed flowers, train tickets) that went in too.”
So true. I think I had this in mind once I went down the route of coupling my old family photographs with names on benches of complete strangers then drawing ties on them to bind them all together and along with my new flower photos they create a new something. I actually read this particular article after I had completed the work and was looking through things that had inspired me, Cockburn being one of them.
I was still thinking of her work when I began this assignment. There is something very personal about taking a needle and thread and sewing through an image, as it involves deciding where to pierce the paper and how to use those threads to symbolise something intangible.
New and old photographs – the old black and white prints that are so small are very evocative of an era that is gone. The 1940s and 1950s were the years that my parents were young people and it is my way of keeping in touch with who they were, where they came from and keeping connected to them. Rephotographing them reminded me of Sherrie Levine’s After Rodchenko 1-12, 1987 and in particular the one of the old lady and reading glasses:
I studied her work during an OU course in art history and thought that her approach was interesting, challenging the male canon. No different really to Marcel Duchamp taking found objects.
Perhaps that what I am doing, I am taking found objects in choosing a bench and a commemorative plaque then adding found photographs and combining them with everything else to make a new image.