2009. május 18., hétfő

Lines Exhibition - Evaluation and Documentation

Documentation of show on Flickr

Pierre Huyghe’s The Third Memory juxtaposes a dramatised account of a real bank robbery (the motion picture Dog Day Afternoon) with a re-enactment of the events orchestrated by John Wojtowicz, one of the robbers. We must remember that Wojtowicz’s account of the events is a narrative, not documentation of the event; it is representational. Huyghe’s idea of The Third Memory can be interpreted as Wojtowicz’s memory of the events which has been skewed over time, romanticised by the film and the media attention the story got.

There is another interpretation here too; it is the memory the reader creates by comparing the two. When we are presented with two narratives simultaneously we instinctively try to find this third narrative which links the two. I have spoken before of the strong compositional synergies in the paring of my images perhaps becoming a barrier to narrative aspects in my work. The Lines exhibition gave me the opportunity to see my work in a fresh context, show the work to new eyes, see how the images were working as a set and ultimately if this third memory was materialising and indeed if it mattered.

Huyghe’s Third Memory addresses ideas put forward by Barthes in The Death of the Author. Barthes says of the poem that ‘it is detached from the author at birth and goes about the world beyond his power to intend about it or control it. The poem belongs to the public.’ I am a believer in this idea of maximum subjectivity in work; the crafting of my work is not concerned with directive narrative, but the cohesion of elements which may suggest a narrative. As such I chose to use a poem on the handout which accompanied my work to retain the ambiguity, rather than solve a riddle.

The poem is reflective of the photographs in imagery, tone, sparse use of language and the use of space on the page is in sync with the use of space in the gallery. The poetic term stanza, the Italian word for ‘room’, describes my intentions in the spacing of my work. If a poem is built of stanzas, we move from room to room; each one is a function in a cohesive unit. Here each image can be seen as a stanza, it has its own room to breathe and stand alone, but it guides you into the next image and is a functional unit in the overall syntagm.

This brings me back to the composition of the pairs. How arresting the images were in terms of composition seemed effect the speed with which people walked around the room. The blockier images such as this are self contained in terms of the movement created by the symmetry and lines, whereas the back three images in the exhibition all have very strong horizontal lines causing them to almost run into one another, hurrying the viewer along to the next image. I feel that this was unavoidable. There is a degree to which one can curate a space and a degree to which we are dictated to by a room’s structure. I felt the first images in the room had to be placed where they were because there was a certain symmetry with that corner of the gallery; the yellow lines on the floor, the white rectangle of the curtain were echoed in the images. Once these were in place the room all but dictated the positioning of the rest of the images.

I had discussed with Amy the possibility of integrating our work, but we felt that while there were similarities between the work, to put them shoulder to shoulder would clutter the space. This would also have meant compromises in lighting coupled with the fact that I felt my images were working well away from the wall, whilst Amy’s work was better hung on the wall.
After so much experimentation with lighting throughout this project, I feel the use of halogen lights in the gallery was perfect. There is an industrial feel to the lights which compliments the work well, they were strong enough to give the work the energy I had hoped for and brought the sheen of the images up perfectly. My only disappointment in terms of the lighting was that the first two images in the room had to share a light and this isolated them somewhat.

Martin Figura came to see my work and pointed out that some of the images I have taken more recently do not share the ‘flat light’ that had made the earlier images so intriguing. This is not to say the more recent images which often have a lot of directional light are any less interesting, but rather they do not share the same language as the rest of the images.
I have created a set of rules in terms of the language I am using here and I need to stick to them. Bernd and Hilla Becher (above: Cooling Towers, 1972)are a perfect example of what I am striving to achieve; the harmony of composition and use of repetition to craft something suggestive of narrative. I have spoken extensively about the idea that what I have honed over the course of this year is a kind of visual idiolect; there is a distinct voice in my work. What the strength of my work boils down to is this crafting of this idiolect and to take my work forward in preparation for my final show I feel I need to increase the scale of the work to highlight some of the nuances of the images, creating an easier passage to the narrative elements and I also need no more than two images. Two images are enough to show the similarities in language; any more is simply bulk.

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