Monday, 30 January 2012
I and Chris Dorley-Brown will be presenting some works at the temporary show at the Hackney Museum from the 25th January until the 28th April. The show is called The Artist's Eye. It is a collective exhibition that offers various visions of the changes the East London has experienced as a result of the 2012 Olympics.
How to get there:
tube: Bethnal Green + bus
train: Hackney Central overground + 2' walk
bus: 38, 242, 253, 254, 277, 276, UL1, W15, 30, 48, 55, 106, 394, D6, 236, 56
Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Carpenters Road, London 2007
Channelsea River, London 2007
When did you start working on the Olympian Visions and what did trigger that particular project?
I started working on the Olympian Visions at the beginning of 2007. At the time I was living in Leyton, nearby the Orient Football, the allotments, Clays Lane Housing Cooperative and the travelers site. Since London had won the bid, a lot of people became suddenly at threat of loosing their homes and the routine of their lives. Everything happened so quickly: eviction letters, compulsory purchase orders, enclosure of the area with the now well known 11 miles blue fence. At the time I was part of the group called Gamesmonitor, so I was constantly up to date on how the process of the regeneration was rapidly changing people’s lives and the territory. The Olympic Delivery Authority and the London Development Agency treated the area as if it were a blank canvas with no respect of the history or the already existing communities. I therefore felt the urgency to document the micro-cosmos of the area, the coexistence of the different communities and the variety of activities, the natural landscape and the industrial one.
How can you explain the versatility of your visions as they depict multiple styles of photography from portraiture to details all encapsulated within a landscape feel.
Hackney Marshes, London 2007
It was really important to combine text and image together in this project. It allowed me to uncover the logic of regeneration and conveys specific meanings, which would have been difficult to transmit just through the image. The text forces the reader/viewer to peer into the photographs and question not only what they are looking at, but also the content of the text itself. In a certain way, in this project it is not the image that comes to clarify the text, but the text, which comes to rationalize the image.
A photograph has a visual narrative made of symbols, of signs. Each viewer can interpret this narrative in relation to his/her own background. So, for example, the image of the car mechanics can be interpreted by some as an example of small local business, a reminder to the industrial landscape of the Lower Lea Valley. But by others it can clearly represent a chaotic and unsafe workplace, which needs to be dismantled and regenerated. The meaning of an image can also be distorted by the way it is presented and, especially, by its platform of distribution. When I first started to exhibit some of the photographs from the Olympian Visions in the art gallery contexts it was clear at that stage that the photographs could have easily become another product to consume, possibly part of the same discourse of urban regeneration I was questioning.
The production of the photographs for a gallery space also assumed a buyer and therefore an art market with all its limitations, but above all a limited public.The decision to produce some postcards (with image on the front and text on the back) has therefore been the conclusion to a long process of thoughts, which focused on the crafty nature of the photograph and on the paradoxes of the art market. The postcard finally represents a way to open up the discussion on the process of urban regeneration to a wider public and, therefore, serves better the purposes of this project.
Where does documentary photography stand today according to you?
This is quite a wide topic to be discussed within this interview. What I can briefly say is that we are in a very interesting moment for photography in general. The digitalisation of the image, the where and how we experience the photograph have opened the way to a whole new way of looking and thinking photography. The credibility of the photograph as a mere reproduction of reality is constantly questioned and rather than being a reproduction, it becomes a creation of reality. I do not see this as a problem, but it certainly uncovers and threatens one of the most fundamental assimilation that defines a photograph as a reliable recording tool. If we would start looking at Photography as a creative discipline such as painting or sculpture, then we would have to re-formulate the question: what is documentary photography?
Cadogan Terrace, London 2007
Greenway, London 2007
Tuesday, 10 January 2012
I first met artist photographer David George in October 2011 at the Salon des Refuses hosted by Hilary Powell. His Dissolutions series were amongst the selected works for the special Olympic 2012 issue which will be published soon by Myrdle Court Press. The Dissolutions stood out at they took me to a peculiar mental journey of the area that interests us. As each participant explained their work it was interesting to watch David with his delicate manners. His selection of projected images was very meticulous and his discourse was as hesitant as intriguing. In fact, it became clear that many refreshing key points were at stake in his work. And he managed to combine all those elements in a fascinating photographic journey.
It first appears that George didn't spend that much time on that particular subject, but it was also clear that what he was after was obtainable in a certain short amount of time. The Lea Valley as a decor was the perfect spot and early morning walks in foggy East London were the second major component. Abstract shapes would become strange monoliths and the landscape would become one singular backdrop within its perspective. Radical and sensational ghostly visions emerge rapidly. But then a new direction appeared as few walkers, similar to David, would use this non-place as a artery of circulation. Those people would merge into those bleak tableaux and add tremendously to the psychological dimension by remaining somehow an anecdote.
David George's Dissolutions appeal to me on many levels. First, there is the obvious similarity of touch with Eastern European cinema that uses very simple and natural elements to approach existential turmoils, and certainly director Andrei Tarkovsky can be felt in that mist. There is also the notion of uncertainty within the medium used that engenders multiple questions on the photographic representation in spite of being understood as a fact of event so linked to the documentary format.
Finally, apart from the form which could be developed richly, there is the concern of the support as George's images are being produced on a fairly small size using and old process called Platinum. That adds once more enormously to the overall understanding of his personal quests. He is not only taking us into a very special world indeed but he is also addressing major questions that Photography definitely needs today.
You will find his statement below.
Dissolutions Series 2009 (platinum)
THE DISAPPEARING MARSHES OF HACKNEY
"Memory is, therefore, neither Perception nor Conception, but a state or affection of one of there, conditioned by lapse of time." Aristotle
I am interested in how photography informs memory, history, and reminiscence, and these images attempt to explore the relationship between these factors. How when used in certain combinations, some images depict what seem to be new other worlds that do not exist anywhere except within the photographic image, forming new, imagined, internal places from the crystals or pixels that make up the photographic image. A world of myth and melancholy.
Memory is fragile and infinitely corruptible and these pictures, by the nature of their subjectivity, allow these places to be reinvented and remembered in different ways. This dependent not only of the re-imaginings of the photographer, but also on the status of the viewer and their relationship with the depicted places. Photography is the perfect tool to exploit memories fragility and deconstruct it into its component parts then rebuild it in the photographers preferred state. Once rebuilt, it is difficult for memory to return to its former structures after its fine tapestries have been unpicked.
The photographic image also possesses the power to validate and reinforce personal memories and even to arbitrate in shared memory. It also has an ability to appropriate history when personal memory loses its currency due to issues of time and remembrance when dealing with factual events. Although it is ultimately more suspect in its depiction of events as it's point of view is more singular, the photograph has a high credibility as evidence of historical fact, allowing everything shown as a photographic image to be thought of, if not actual, then at very least highly plausible. Even when the images have been manipulated or taken out of their original context the default setting of the photograph to the viewer is one of objectivity. This ultimately leads to conflict between memory and photography with the latter most likely to win, causing the lines of memory to be bent in order to accommodate photographic facts. This is partly due to the fact that memories tends to be either personal, which are, by their very nature, subjective or shared, which is remembrance by consensus and therefore have a sheen of vagueness about them either of which can be deemed unreliable when compared to a photograph supposed certainty of objectiveness.
These photographs ultimately depict not a real world in any sense, but a place between there and a supposed world of photographic imaginations.