Friday, 3 April 2015

SUSAN ANDREWS part1



As the 2012pics platform grows with live archives of the East End a circle of distinctive personalities emerge. All my efforts find satisfaction in gathering talented photographers with visions and specific approaches. They all use photography in a very progressive way and trigger a social dialogue, but they also challenge a medium. This is what the platform is about, working on one specific area for a long period of time with versatility. The topic must be compelling and familiar, the practice regular, representation experimental, dilemmas unavoidable, and so forth.. All the photographers are more in fact artists than photographers. They use the medium as a natural extension of their instinctive behavior. They prioritize the process and dig into the subject to reveal some kind of natural emergence. To take “good or nice photograph” is secondary but to build a coherent and contemporary body of work is what matters most. This is what Art is about. Do not produce as you are being told to sell more. Always put yourself of the edge of failure, forget about the past and uncover new pathways. When money starts pouring in you are doomed, you lose your freedom, the quintessential ingredient of creativity. But we are poor. Our photography doesn’t even satisfy the main photographic institutions. We DIY shows, invest from our own pockets, we do not even promote “properly”, it’s all word of mouth, network of friends, social medias etc.. This is a long and slow process but this is an adequate way as it keeps it sincere and stimulating.




As the group grows organically I find myself slowing down the selective process. That said, as our companionship grows I occasionally discover some relevant initiatives through introductions. And this platform wouldn’t make sense without the recent addition of Susan Andrews who is the course leader of MA Photography at the CASS and director of the East End Archives. Her passion and knowledge for Photography is vast and she is at the forefront of various discussions. It is a moving and strange feeling the one when you meet someone with similar projections and applications. It certainly reassures you in your personal quest to witness parallel initiatives. It is with a certain comfort you realize that your concerns aren’t vain and that they find resonance elsewhere.


Susan teaches at the Cass in Aldgate East, London and she commutes daily by car.
This is how her Up and Down Whitechapel High Street
/ Photographs From the Car series started.
In late 2008, I decided to alleviate the frustration of the heavy traffic caused by road works, incidents and accidents, by taking a photograph each time the traffic stopped. I set myself a system where I only photograph when the car is stationary with the handbrake on, which means there are no snatched images, but there are no rules regarding the direction of the shot or the subject matter, just whatever takes my eye. These photographs have a particular aesthetic as the vantage point is from the car, where passers-by are often viewed side-on in relation to buildings which face the camera, offering a very different perspective than from the pavement.





Unsatisfied with the time your life allocates you for personal projects, sometimes the most common subject jumps at you. And it is up to you to decode its signals and engage a dialogue with it or not. The invisible waves that make our beings feel and see may be more activated in a photographer’s brain as our vision is in constant alert. Would we love to have a camera set in our iris? Maybe not but there is something there that could explain a profound desire for embracing the moment and sharing it. This is a complex, sometimes frustrating, dilemma Susan was facing and succeeded successfully in finding her own method.  Browsing through the work you will realize that the protocol she has put together enables her to jump to the essence of the scene. The photographs are all independent in compositions, colours and content. The context is present throughout because of the wider phenomenon that is the transformation of the East End.  Susan sets the parameters and lets events come to her from a different perspective. Her work is surprisingly natural and refreshing all together.




Susan also directs Eats End archives where few well known photographers accept to share their work online such as Don McCullin, Brian Griffin, Tom Hunter and few others. The group organizes collective shows and publications on the matter (see previous posts) The will and passion involved in their project is very similar to what we do. On the other hand, it concerns me as to why such initiatives are to be all so often independent. Why couldn’t I, and still can’t, find institutions that would curate such program. As the Olympic games approached no photographic agency, no government body, no art funding, no private commission, no one could be found to invest into collecting a collective memory of the past and transient. Still today, those programs haven’t emerged publicly and only independent initiatives and collaborations thrive. Surely to promote a wider initiative wouldn’t improve the quality for the concerns and love we have for the East End but support for the existing platforms like ours could be beneficial to everyone. This is not about money but about celebrating this very unique mix of local communities and our national heritage.

What is happening in the East End is a direct reflection of today’s society and this is why it is so important to document it. Susan Andrews like Don McCullin understood that travelling the world for pictures isn’t appropriate anymore because the world is out there at your doorstep with all its contradictions. We better start taking care of our community to understand our present and foresee the global.

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