Surface & Strategies - Week 9

I will begin this post with the conclusion of the workshop activity i described in the previous one. I had one further meeting on the evening of 30th July, unfortunately only one person was able to come. I recorded their very helpful comments and thanked them for their time.

While people were generally receptive to my ideas on going forward with a group exhibition collaboration I felt the sampling was too samll a number and that I needed to speak to those who couldn't get to either meeting separately, after my current MA assignments were submitted.  

In terms of the comments on my own proposals for my Croydon shopkeepers exhibition a number of useful points came up, some of which I hadn't previously considered. 

This week there was a web presentation from afar, the designer, film maker and playwright Professor Welby Ings, at home in Auckland, New Zealand. We had all looked at his excellent short film, 'Minted', in advance. The beginning of the presenation was more academic, talking about methodological approaches and the cohabitation between disciplines. Providing the following diagramatic example.

Professor Welby Ings; Cohabitation between academic and professional disciplines

Professor Welby Ings; Cohabitation between academic and professional disciplines

This was probably the only part of his presentation that I didn't fully agree with. In such complex interactions you need at least a 3-D diagramatic. Probably too complex to represent easily I admit.

Professor Justin Welby, as recorded by his web cam

Professor Justin Welby, as recorded by his web cam

More fascinating was the insight provided into his creative process and incredible eye for detail by his talking through how he approached and realised his Munted project. I did feel it made my own practice somewhat ill-thought out and chancy compared, and it did also make me consider the level of detail that has to be considered in designing a video production. I suppose that although his film has a documentary style, it only appears 'real' because of the effort put into the staging and the script to make it so. As well as casting etc. of course. Very impressive.

Example of Professor Welby's creative approach through drawing

Project-wise I've been able to secure a week at La Zaris Art Gallery for my exhibition. I'm to have a whole wall and a reasonable amount of additonal space on another wall as well. Here are some shots I took of the two walls.

Full wall available for hanging Croydon Shopkeepers project (Indicated  by brushed area)

Second wall at La Zaris also available for hang, area  indicated by blue brush strokes

In addition the veery kind proprietor, Kish Soobramaney, will re-mount a large TV he previously had sited in the top corner where the clock now is. This could then be used for to show my video pieces. 

The only negative about using Kish's Gllery is it's distance from a station. However, it is close to a bus garage that is fed by at least separate five bus routes.  He is of course one of my latest collaborators too, so it's very appropriate to hold my exhibition there.

Shooting-wise this has been a quiet week. however, I was fortunate to bump into a fellow photographer I knew when I went back to arrange a photo shoot video of Reg and his shop, High Street radio and Photographic during this week. He knew of my project and suggested i consider adding an Italian delicatessen situated off the main road the other side of South Croydon station. So I did, and it's a very distinctive shop indeed. A converted pharmacy a lot of the original features have been carefully preserved, and the shop itself is a bit of an eclectic mixture of cafe and delicatessen. The proprietor, Giorgio, is also quite a character too. I've arranged a shoot for early next week when I visit my dentist for who is based only a couple of streets away. Perfect.

last  week I raised with my tutor, Stella Baraklianou , her thoughts on the two images that I'd put forward as my contribution to the collaborative e-mag the group I'd attached myself to put together (week 3). Here they are again:

'Graham's reflected 1', Graham Land, June, 2018. Created by positioning an LED light close to me face with the camera fitted with a macro lens focused on the two brass wardrobe door knobs.

'Graham's reflected 1', Graham Land, June, 2018. Created by positioning an LED light close to me face with the camera fitted with a macro lens focused on the two brass wardrobe door knobs.

'Graham Reflected 2', by Graham Land, June 2018. The camera was mounted close to the ceiling (tripod on the Utility Room work surface) with a cable release trigger. Again a large LED light was used to illuminate my face.

'Graham Reflected 2', by Graham Land, June 2018. The camera was mounted close to the ceiling (tripod on the Utility Room work surface) with a cable release trigger. Again a large LED light was used to illuminate my face.

I found this exercise particularly enjoyable and was very pleased with the effect. However, I wasn't sure the production of more images on a similar theme, examining myself through my reflection in areas of my own working/living environment would be acceptable as a new sub-project. This week I asked another Cemre Yeşil, for her thoughts on them, she also though it was an approach worth taking forward.. 

Self-portraiture has of course been a common form of painting for many years, James Hall, in the forwards of his recent book on a cultural history of the self-portrait, feels that it in the last forty years painters have become so obsessed with it that some have based their whole career on such portraiture, So it''s certainly a popular genre for painters. Rembrandt, Reynolds, Courbet and Munch have had exihibitions dedicated to their self-portraits.  

Self-Portrait 339, Lake Powell, 2009 by Lee Friedlander

Self-Portrait 339, Lake Powell, 2009 by Lee Friedlander

Lee Friedlander, who I quoted as a signifiganct influence on my two environmental portraiture projects, has had a book published of over 400 self-portraits take by him during his long career. 

Photographically the view of Barthes on having his own picture taken might be appropriate; 'I do not stop imitating myself … each time I am photographed I invariably suffer from a sensation of inauthenticity, sometimes of imposture." Apart from a few shots taken many years ago in front of a mirror and a Christmas ball my own self-portraiture has been pretty non-existent. I don't take selfies with my mobile phone. With the medically-related exception of attempting to record my face to see whether a migraine aura had any effect on my face, which it didn't. 

ICP-henri_florence_148_1998_465472_displaysize.jpg

However, I really enjoyed the technical and aesthetic challenge of framing myself through a reflective surface, and according to Jason in a recent South African article the production of multiple portraits with the aid of mirrors had been the favourite pastime of amateur photographers since the turn of the century. 

In fact one photographer in particular, Florence Henri, often deliberately used a mirror to frame, isolate, double and otherwise interact with her subjects. Producing some very impressive and moody work in the process. du Pont has said that "In Henri’s self-portraits, the mirror is a metaphor for self-knowledge". Interesting.

'Self-Portrait, Taken by Florence Henry, 1938

Self-portrait by Gabriella Achadinha

In the same South African article the Haitian-American photogrpaher Emilier Regnier made the comment "Self-portraiture is the ultimate form of control. We choose what we want to give to the world to see about us.” I can relate to that, though I'd have to add that that control is bounded by the reality of the subject. Another photographer, Gabriela Achdinha, who was interviewed for the  same article, describes self-portraiture ass “An opportunity to exhibit yourself according to your own exact terms. Acting as not only subject but master, holding interpretation in your own hands." This I feel is close to my own view.

The Irish filmmaker and author Mark Cousins, who I photographed at the start of my Researcher's and Influencers project, makes the comment that "Painters have been particularly good at looking at themselves. Their Self-portraits reveal their obsessiveness, neurosis, ego and pathos of being alive." I don't think photographer's are that different.

The Welsh photographer John Paul Evans has produced a large body of work based on the self-portraiture of himself with his older partner, often taken in domestic settings some of it very amusing. It doesn't have to be serious.

rom 'till death us do part' series by John Paul Evans

 

REFERENCES

Hall, J 2014 The Self Portrait: A Cultural History London, Thames & Hudson p.7

O'Hagen S, 2012 In the Picture: Self-Portraits 1958-2011 by Lee Friedlander – review  22nd January edition, Manchester, The Observer/Guardian.  Extracted from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jan/22/lee-friedlander-in-picture-review

Barthes, R 1980 Camera Lucida p. 13 London, Random House

Jason, S, 2017 On reflection: 6 photographers share their self-portraits and talk portraiture 19th July aerticle in on-line magazine ‘between 10and5’ on—line showcase for South African creative industries, Johannesburg. Extracted from from https://10and5.com/2017/07/19/on-reflection-6-photographers-share-their-self-portraits-and-talk-portraiture/

Cousins M, 2017 The Story of Looking pp. 61-62 Edinburgh, Canongate.

 

IMAGE SOURCES

Lee Friedlander image extracted from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jan/22/lee-friedlander-in-picture-review

Florence Henri Self-portraits Downloaded from the International Centre for Photography. See https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/florence-henri

Gabriella Achadinha self-portrait Exctracted from https://10and5.com/2017/07/19/on-reflection-6-photographers-share-their-self-portraits-and-talk-portraiture/

JohnPaul Evans image extracted from his website, date image captured not provided http://www.johnpaulevans.co.uk/