Strange and Familiar – Manchester Gallery

I visited the Strange and Familiar exhibition at the Manchester Gallery on 15 May 2017.

The exhibition was curated by Martin Parr and included the work of leading photographers, documenting what it means to be British over the ages.

I was particularly interested in Bruce Gilden’s images.

These images were huge; in some ways they reminded me of the scale of Les Monaghan’s work in The Desire Project. More than life size, and of ordinary people, they demand that you look at every mark and imperfection on faces that would ordinarily go unnoticed.

Gilden, in his introduction to these images says ‘What I am searching for when I walk the streets are people I can engage with, somebody whose face, and particularly eyes, scream a story.’ These images were created as a contribution to the Black Country Series which documented working class Britain. Gilden focussed on the ‘invisible people’ of Dudley, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.

His images show individuals who are not typical in terms of our expectations of portraits, and as such are quite uncomfortable to look at. Gilden’s approach is controversial, he takes his images without consent and uses bright flash light to capture people unawares, showing them in unflattering poses and in minute detail. I recorded my discomfort with this approach at the beginning of this course, and looking at these images, I still feel the same.

Jim Dow’s work also interested me.

Façade of Chapman’s Hardware, Islington, London 19.2.93

Window detail, wallpaper and lino shop,Leytonstone, London, June 83

Interior of Bert’s eel and pie shop, Peckham, London 15.7.85

Southward’s sweet shop, Scarborough, North Yorkshire 3.6.83

The introduction to his work says ‘..when the French emperor Napoleon was asked what he thought of Britain he is supposed to have replied that it was nothing more than a nation of shopkeepers’. This idea of representing England by showing the traditional local, or ‘corner’ shop appeals to me; it says a lot about the nature of work and consumerism, and the orderly displays seem to suggest a sense of pride.

Jim Dow was fascinated by this local architecture, and he travelled to Britain (from America) ‘on numerous occasions between 1980 and 1994, recording this traditional way of life slowly beginning to disappear’. He says, of the local shop: (it is) doomed by the juggernaut and ‘park and shop’ megastores.

I like the idea of making images like these to record history and change. Peter Mitchell’s recording of the demolition and rebuilding in Leeds, similarly, makes an important historical document. Please see my post on Mitchell’s Planet Yorkshire.

Being part of a family with an almost 60 year history of retail in a small northern town, I was particularly interested in Dow’s documentation of the local shop as an important British institution. I am hopeful that there will be a return to the valuing of honest local traders. I would like to consider the documentation of my husband’s family’s business further as a photographic project in the future.

List of Illustrations

Images are my photographs of work at the Strange and Familiar Exhibition, Manchester Gallery 15.5.17

Bibliography

Exhibition. Strange and Familiar. Manchester Art Gallery (25 November 2016–Monday 29 May 2017)

RPS International Print Exhibition

I visited the 159th RPS International Print Exhibition, at The Civic in Barnsley, on 13 May 2017.

The International Print Exhibition comprises images from 75 diverse photographers from 16 different countries. Entries are from both amateur and professional photographers. It was interesting that for the first time, all medal winners were women.

This silver medal winning image caught my attention. The photographer, Polly Braden, started her work on this project in 2014. She wanted to produce a body of work that showed what people with learning difficulties could achieve with the right support. The image below shows Lucie, who had been watching the boys jumping in the water and showing off for the camera. Polly asked her if she wanted to swim underwater for a photograph. She captured this image after a few attempts.

Lucie

This image appeals to my interest in ordinary people. I think it shows an ordinary young woman doing something extraordinary and making it look easy. I like how there is both a sense of movement, in the actions of her legs, yet a feeling of peace and freedom in her expression and the stillness of her arms.

I was particularly interested in Peter Zelewski’s images from his ‘Twins’ series. I had seen these images before, on Zelewski’s website. I was genuinely surprised to see them at this exhibition in my home town, and delighted. I am an identical twin myself, and I admit to being fascinated by other twins. I, along with the rest of the population, enjoy looking to see how alike sets of twins can be. However, for me, and I assume for other identical twins, the representation of us solely in terms of our physical similarities and differences is more complex than that.

Thomas and Lorenco.                                                            Kira and Taya

Bibliography

Exhibition: The RPS International Print Exhibition. Barnsley Civic: (11.4.17-3.6.17) At: http://www.barnsleycivic.co.uk/events/the-royal-photographic-society-international-print-exhibition-159

Adrian Ashworth – Somewhere in Time

I visited Ashworth’s exhibition Somewhere in Time, at The Civic in Barnsley, on 13 May 2017.

The exhibition is shown as part of ‘Dementia week’. The introduction explains that:

‘Not everyone’s stories are life changing – some are happy, some sad, some very tragic, but they are real stories from real people living day to day, helping each other the best way they can’. Ashworth documents ‘just how innocent dementia can appear while quietly beckoning away our loved ones’. he says, of his images: ‘some are meant to make you laugh, others to share their pain and suffering, all real people from our community struggling and coping their best with such a debilitating condition that cannot be undone’. (Ashworth 2017)

The title of his work is Ashworth’s description of the significance of an incident he recalls while speaking to his 84 year old father. His dad, who has dementia and struggles with short term memory suddenly recalled an event from his past. He had a ‘somewhere in time moment, suddenly dropping into a time and reliving the experiences by telling his story’. This incident gave Ashworth the inspiration of joining a narrative with a picture to capture and embellish the moment.

Ashworth’s images are all in mono, which I feel contributes to a documentary style and emphasises the subjects faces without distraction. It is interesting that it is not always clear which subject in the image has the illness, and I presume that this is part of Ashworth’s message that dementia appears invisible. The thing that I noticed most was the obvious love and closeness depicted between the individual and their carers, and the determination to find the good in what is a terrible situation. These images show the strength of emotion in human relationships and how love and commitment prevail in the most difficult of circumstances.

Barnsley Civic is a fabulous gallery. In some shape or form ‘The Civic’ has existed for many years but this gallery is a relatively new extension to the old Civic Hall buildings. This exhibition starts at the bottom of the stairs and continues to the upper gallery.  Below are my images of some of the photographs displayed, to illustrate the exhibition.

Roger 64, and Lynne 62

Ashworth was unfortunately unable to complete his interview with this couple because of Lynne’s condition. This image shows a happier shared moment and illustrates the continuance of humour and playfulness despite the tragic circumstances.

Stephen 87, and Emily 85

This image is named ‘The proposal’. Stephen is wearing his wedding suit and declaring his undying love for Emily. Theirs was a romantic love story of missed opportunities before they finally married. This is an example of an image where I felt that it was not possible to be entirely certain which subject had the illness. At first, I assumed it was Emily.

This image is of Adrian and his father. They used to joke about his ears. This shows how humour and laughter is still possible. To me, however, this is not an entirely kind image.

I am very interested in the lives and experiences of ordinary people and I feel that this exploration by Ashworth of a very difficult subject that includes members of his close family is a very brave and challenging undertaking.

Bibliography

Ashworth, A: Somewhere in Time (photographs). Available at: http://www.barnsleycivic.co.uk/events/adrian-ashworth-somewhere-in-time (Accessed 20 May 2017).

Exhibition: Somewhere in Time. At: Barnsley: Civic: (21 April 2017 – 2 June 2017)

Bill Henson

As part of my feedback on my assignment 4, my tutor signposted me to the work of Bill Henson.

Bill Henson is an Australian Photographer famous for his low light, painterly images. Many of his images are taken using the ambient twilight to create a painterly ‘chiaroscuro’ effect.

Chiaroscuro ‘is an oil painting technique, developed during the Renaissance, that uses strong tonal contrasts between light and dark to model three-dimensional forms, often to dramatic effect’ (Wikipedia). I understand this to mean the use of light and shadow to give a three dimensional ‘solid’ appearance to a subject.

Henson produced much of his work using ambient twilight to create ‘otherworldly’ emotional images. This twilight light was also used to suggest the ‘twilight’ boundaries between male and female, child and adult.

His book ‘Particle Mist‘  is a collection of images of ballerinas as they practice their dance.

Image 1

These images show dancers ‘lost in a reverie as they practice dance in a dimly lit studio; but through Henson’s lens they could just as well be the protagonists of a 17th century Dutch masterpiece’. (Woodward 2017)

Henson (in Woodward 2017) says: ‘When I first encountered ballet, as depicted in these works, it wasn’t so much the dancers that struck me as the light and atmosphere of the space in which they were rehearsing. There was an otherworldly twilight created by the darkened and dusty windows in this old studio which seemed to hold the dancers in thrall. Gradually I came to realise that these spaces and the people who inhabit them start to become one’. (Woodward)

To me, these images are portraits that show the feelings and thoughts of the subjects and show them as inseparable from dance, almost as if the portrait is not about the individual but is about her mental connection with and total absorption in  her physical expression through movement. These images are soft, conveying a gentle emotion and a blurring of the boundary between the dancer and the dance.

I am particularly interested in Henson’s images of industrial landscapes, taken at night.

Image 2

I would be interested to combine my work on assignments 4 (night photography) and 5 (industrial images) to capture images of Sheffield’s E.ON power station at night. I find it particularly striking at night because of the orange ‘fire-glow’ effect from the main building. This would be an interesting contrast to my daylight images of the site.

List of illustrations

Image 1: Henson, B (2015) Photographs from Particle Mist at:  http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/8060/bill-hensons-bewitching-anti-portraits-of-ballerinas (Accessed 8 May 2017)

Image 2: Henson, B (1998) Photograph. ~31 untitled. At: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=bill+henson+industrial+landscapes&qpvt=bill+henson+industrial+landscapes&qpvt=bill+henson+industrial+landscapes&qpvt=bill+henson+industrial+landscapes&FORM=IGRE (accessed 14 May 2017)

Bibliography

Woodward, D. (2017). Bill Henson’s Bewitching ‘Anti-Portraits’ of Ballerinas. [online] AnOther. Available at: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/8060/bill-hensons-bewitching-anti-portraits-of-ballerinas (Accessed 8 May 2017).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiaroscuro

Britain in focus – A Photographic History (part 3)

Documentary series, BBC4. In three parts, commencing 6 March 2017.

I thought it would be helpful to my learning to take notes as I watched this program, and to record my learning in my learning log.

This final part of the series documents the progress of photography from colour to digital. The presenter, Eamonn McCabe says that he has seen a photography ‘revolution’ during his career.

I was particularly interested in this episode for its focus on some of the photographers I have been introduced to on this course, such as Faye Godwin, Peter Mitchell and Martin Parr. It is interesting to see how these are becoming familiar manes to me now, and I had not heard of them prior to starting this course.

First though, I was interested in McCabe’s focus on 1960s postcards. He looked at the work of John Hind who created the vivid coloured postcard images that we all know, highlighting the mood of optimism and ‘Britain enjoying itself again’.  Hind’s colours and effect were not just created by his camera, but were produced by the ‘cutting edge printers’ and the alteration and enhancement of colours post-capture.

The Kodak Instamatic camera, developed in 1963 ‘was simple to use and widened the appeal of colour photography’ . People could take their own colour snapshots, send away the cartridge for development and receive their prints in the post.

In terms of colour photography however, McCabe said that ‘some aspects of British life didn’t seem to lend themselves to colour photography’. ‘Black and white’ was still considered the proper medium for ‘serious’ photography.

John Bulmer photographed ‘the north’ in colour. Until then it had been considered ‘a black and white subject’. Bulmer’s images of the north were often taken in winter and in rain or fog, because he felt that if they were taken on sunny days, his images wouldn’t ‘get across the atmosphere of the place’. As a northerner, I am not sure quite what to feel about this depiction of the north as an homogenous and depressing place. However, I can’t deny that I really like these images.

Photographer Jane Bown ‘refused to shoot in colour’. She was a portrait photographer who worked for The Observer and she used mono to reveal the characters of the many famous people, including the Queen, who she photographed.

The 1970s saw a ‘new generation of photographers, driven to tell stories that they thought no one else was telling’. Van Lee Burke (I may have misheard this name and am unable to find record of this photographer), for example, took photographs depicting his experience of African Caribbean culture ‘from the inside’ as a challenge the negative stereotype and to show the reality of the growing black community in Birmingham. He felt that black people were ‘not in charge of their own history’ and his work was an attempt to address this by ‘writing our history ourselves’. He took photographs to show locally, he didn’t want his pictures in the press and he said ‘the community is the audience’. This may explain why I have been unable to find more information about this artist.

Peter Mitchell recorded change within his home town of Leeds. He created a 40 year record of demolition within the city and he chose to do this using colour since he felt that ‘it is the way we all look at stuff’. He says that he regards photography as ‘almost slightly religious … almost that God’s light comes down and hits you.’ McCabe says that although his photographs are now valued as an important historical work, Mitchell could have been overlooked were it not for Val Williams, Gallery Curator who exhibited his work in her Impressions network of new galleries. Please see my post Peter Mitchell, Planet Yorkshire.

Faye Godwin worked in the traditional landscape genre. Her work Land, in 1985, presented a picturesque view of Britain, ‘in contrast to her disillusionment with other aspects of natural life’. Paul Hill, interviewed, said that ‘Faye could say something with her pictures’ – about access to the land – she used photography as a vehicle for her beliefs and opinions’. I had not consciously thought of Godwin’s work in my assignment 5 submission, but I can now see similarities in my attempt to say something about the accessibility of industrial spaces. Val Williams says that ‘Godwin could find out a lot about how the land was being used and her Forbidden Land became a political project in which she explored how the land was being bought up, restricted and controlled’.

Martin Parr’s images have divided opinion. His The Last Resort images ‘made his name’. McCabe says that Parr ‘mixes the colour and quality of commercial photography with documentary realism’. Critics accuse him of being cruel in his capturing of unflattering images of the working class. Parr explains that in a follow up book The Cost of Living , he ‘turned the camera on his own tribe’. Here, his images show the middle class attending anti-natal classes or going to craft fairs (which he hates), capturing them because Parr ‘finds people funny’. He insists he is ‘not taking the p***’ out of people but admits to a ‘sense of mischief’. Parr’s use of colour and flash makes his images look like ‘glossy magazine shots rather than traditional documentary images’. However, he does provide a ‘documentary’, taking images exploring consumerism among the middle classes – people deliberating over which sofa to buy, or attending aerobics classes, for example. He says that ‘flash makes it clear that it is an interpretation of a scene rather than a depiction of reality. McCabe says he shows ‘a parallel reality, instantly recognisable but somehow ludicrous, a kind of Parr world’.

In terms of digital photography, McCabe says he is sceptical. His ‘worry is that the camera, which is more like a computer, does so much of the work, there is less consideration to composition and framing.’ In an age where ‘everybody is a photographer’,  he asks ‘how, in the vast ocean of images, are you supposed to take a really great photograph?’

McCabe interviews Mishka Hannah, who creates images in a studio ‘with not a camera in sight’. Hannah uses material from the internet and satellite imagery to ‘access forbidden places, for example industrial farmland in Texas’ – in common with Faye Godwin, he reveals how landscape is used and controlled. His technique seems far from traditional photography but he uses existing images from Google Earth which he superimposes onto maps of land boundaries and puts them together ‘to make a new composition’.

McCabe says that the digital revolution has ‘affected how we take, present and share photographs. He interviews a 16 year old girl, Molly Bonneyface, about her use of Instagram. She tells him that the images she takes with her smart phone is not just a hobby, ‘it is a means of expression’. She explains that she ‘can use her phone all the time, it is always there, it’s what I do all the time’. She says that the images she presents to her 1300 followers who like her pictures ‘are just a version of me that I choose to show everyone… its a public diary that looks nice.. other pictures I keep just for me’. McCabe confirms ‘taking pictures is central to who Molly is’ and says ‘the most important subject for the everyday photographer is now themselves’.

This series of three episodes has looked at the development of British photography since the first images were taken 180 years ago and has ‘considered the changing ways in which we have pictured ourselves… we have learned how science and technology have shaped the course of photography at every stage of its history and how great art has come from the camera’.

 

Assessment – Final Self Evaluation

It has been helpful to base my final self-evaluation around the course assessment criteria.

Technical and visual skills

I feel that I have applied myself to all the course exercises and that these have helped to build my technical and visual skills and improve my knowledge, I have repeated some of the exercises for further learning and have benefitted from the process of reflecting on my work.

Please see the my re-work of exercise 2.6 for an example of how my reflection informed my approach to taking images with a narrow depth of field.

I am aware that technically, I have a lot to learn. However, I have become much more comfortable with my camera over the last twelve months in terms of the techniques covered in the course but am keen to develop my photography skills further, including techniques for editing with Photoshop. I am developing a habit of always looking and am beginning to see things in everyday life in terms of light and composition. I am much more aware of the ‘camera (as) a tool for expressing ideas’ (course notes p20) and of photography as a visual language.

I have become much more open to taking images that I would previously not have considered as appropriate and to looking at and enjoying the work of artists whose work is more difficult to understand.

Quality of outcome

I have experimented with print submission and I believe that the prints I submit for my final assessment are superior in quality to those I submitted in assignment 3. I am very aware of the importance of presentation in the visual arts and I am happy to be able to draw on the experiences of fellow students for their knowledge of options available.

I have completed all the set assignments and I have learned from my experiences and my tutor feedback. I can clearly see how I initially failed to address the brief for assignment 3 and by re-working it and considering my tutor’s comments, I learned a lot. My fourth and fifth assignments received much better feedback from my tutor and I was happy that I had fully addressed the brief in both these assignments and created some good images. In assignment five I have produced a piece of work with a clear concept that also shows something of my personal interest and perhaps the beginnings of a personal voice.

On reflecting on my submitted images, I am aware that, without exception, I have used a landscape orientation and a 2:3 ratio. This has largely been a deliberate decision. In exercise 4.5  for example, when photographing the tallest structure in the country, I chose to use landscape to avoid the emphasis on the height of the building in favour of different viewpoints. However, I have a mental note to experiment more.

Demonstration of creativity

Perhaps the most difficult part of the course has been the ‘creative’ side. By this I mean the formulating of ideas for assignment work. I envy those students who seem to overflow with creative ideas for their work. However, I am learning to draw on my personal interests and life experiences and I have found a particular interest in quite a number of areas. I am keen to develop further my interest in architectural subjects, ‘ordinary’ things, low light and night photography and women’s issues. Being a twin myself, I am also very interested in the ways that twins seem to be a popular subject for photographers keen to establish and point out similarities and differences between them. Twin photography from a twin’s point of view, or in collaboration with my twin, may be interesting for future work.

Exercise 5.2  demonstrates my own assessment of my work as creative, and this was a significant realisation for me. Through this analysis, I realised that I am learning to develop my creativity and I am pleased that I am starting to feel that this side of my learning has started to develop.

In my Insomnia Project I hope to show a sense of experimentation. I had a sense of wanting to say something and thinking about how I could translate ideas into images technically. My focus here was on the idea rather than technical excellence since it was not appropriate to set up a tripod in the middle of the night in a shared bedroom. However, I hope that it shows a desire to experiment and a sense of the development of my creativity.

My Food Project was an attempt to tell a story and present a political message about food consumption. This was in response to The Food Issue of the British Journal of Photography and it encouraged me to see my work as a means of conveying a particular meaning. My inspiration was in terms of the excesses within the food industry as explored by Bobby Doherty (BJP December 2016 p24). This was also an attempt to introduce something of myself into my work since it involved images of my own relationship with food and my routines around it. Ultimately it is an attempt to highlight the waste within food sales and the consequent effect on the planet.

Context

My understanding of the art of photography has changed dramatically since starting this course.  I have begun to know the work of significant artists and to develop an understanding of the history of photography and its place in the visual arts. I have a new understanding of photography as a visual language and how images can be used, like words, to convey a particular message or story, and can say things that may be impossible with words. I have been introduced to different genres of photography and to debates between photographers and to viewing the work of photographers exhibited in galleries. This has all given me a wider understanding of the world of photography and has started to open my mind to the possibilities for my own work.

Bibliography

British Journal of Photography (December 2017) Are you being served? The Food Issue. issue 7854

 

Britain in focus – A Photographic History (part 2)

Documentary series, BBC4. In three parts, commencing 6 March 2017.

I thought it would be helpful to my learning to take notes as I watched this program, and to record my learning in my learning log.

In this second part of the series, Eamonn McCabe introduces us to the beginnings of media reportage. Following developments in photographic processes that allowed images to be reproduced directly on the pages of a newspaper, media images of significant events could be produced. The new process of photography relied on producing negatives on glass plates which could then be quickly reproduced as positive images. Previously, the only way an image could be reproduced directly into a newspaper was through individual engraving. The Mirror newspaper group significantly increased its sales when it published a report including a dramatic front page image depicting the Sydney Street siege in London in 1911.

This report aroused unprecedented interest from the public and was ‘the making of press photography’. It led to a growing public appetite for news stories. For the first time, for example, intimate pictures of the armed forces could be taken and used to record the experiences of the soldiers leading up to the war.

I was interested in the fact that the most significant photographer of WW1 soldiers’ lives was a woman. Christina Broome took images of soldiers and she and her daughter printed and produced them overnight. Her images showed a personal view of the experience of war, the everyday lives of those in the army. So successful was her venture that her images of happy healthy soldiers actually boosted recruitment into the forces.

The development of the ‘Vest pocket Kodak’, marketed and aimed at use by the soldiers allowed images to be taken by them and introduced ‘a new level of realism’ to war photography. Written notes about location and date could be made directly on to the negative using a stylus. The first pictures of the war action were taken by soldiers. However, when images of friendly personal relationships between the English and German soldiers were circulated, the army banned the use of VPKs. The few images that do remain create a valuable historical document.

‘Back in London’, Alvin Langdon Coburn was making his mark on photography by establishing portraiture as an art form. His image of George Bernard Shaw, naked and posed like ‘The Thinker’ established Coburn as ‘the country’s first celebrity photographer’. Coburn’s technique involved establishing a raport and relationship with his sitters. He wanted to break down the usual barriers between photographer and subject.  His image of  W B Yeats, taken while the author is reciting a poem, shows him with a natural, honest expression, staring straight at the camera. This image was not staged and it perfectly captured the honest relationship and lack of barrier between Coburn and his subject. McCabe goes on to tell us that Coburn’s moody urban landscapes of London were very much a result of his printing techniques. He used platinum printing techniques that ensured a misty, ominous outcome.

Cecil Beeton is famous for his capturing of stylised images of the ‘roaring 20’s’ showing life after the war and celebrating the new freedoms. His famous picture of his sister Nancy shows a new stylised photography in its theatrical and dramatic use of her flamboyant costumes and re-touching to create a staged image that captured the hedonism of the post war years. Beeton’s images were published by Vogue magazine for many years and fashion magazines used images like these to help to sell their products. Photographs were artistic, they did not always clearly depict the product for sale but their use of glamour and setting helped to ‘sell a lifestyle’, and consequently the product. Beeton was influenced by the surrealist art movement that used theatrical and magical images, and he helped to establish the genre of fashion photography.

Following the  hedonism of the 20s, the thirties presented a very different view of Britain. This was an era of ‘unemployment, poverty and protest’. Bill Brandt was a German Photographer working in the north of England at the time. His images show the reality of life in some of the most deprived areas during the depression. Some of his images were staged to capture portraits of people who lived and worked in poor industrial communities, and he ‘created a version of Britain never before recorded’.

The ‘roll film Leica’ allowed photographers to take their images without the use of a tripod and changed the nature of photography as a consequence. The famous image of the two young women on the fairground ride, both smiling, one showing her knickers as the wind blows her skirt was considered ‘ahead of its time’. The girl’s underwear was airbrushed out but the final image was cheeky, and showed working class girls having a laugh. This image was different to anything previously seen.

A year later, in 1939, WW2 broke out. Bill Hardy’s images captured the work of firemen as they responded to calls during the blitz. His work shows the danger inherent in the work and also to the photographer. For the first time, a photographer was credited with the images used in a report that appeared in the newspaper. Hardy went on to document the liberation of Bergan-Belson concentration camp, capturing unprecedented scenes of human suffering. Similarly, George Rodger’s image of a little boy, out for a walk, and passing piles of corpses at the roadside was shocking and disturbing. The visual record of the Holocaust formed part of the evidence used to convict war criminals

McCabe says, it is important to record these events, however terrible, as a lasting testimony for following generations.

This post is written using hand written notes taken while watching the program. I have used quotation marks where words have been directly lifted from the commentary.

 

 

 

Charging Bull and Fearless Girl

I was interested in how context can dramatically alter the interpretation and meaning of an image. Although this analysis does not directly relate to the meaning of a photograph, I felt that it illustrated very well how meaning depends on where art is displayed – the external context.  Just as the meaning of Doisneau’s Paris Café image (Please see my post Part 5 research point – context) could be interpreted as a comment on alcohol or prostitution, or simply on café culture, according to where it was viewed, so the artist’s intention in the exhibition of his Charging Bull statue was compromised by the ‘addition’ of Fearless Girl. The changed environment in which the statue was presented altered its meaning.

Charging Bull was intended as a symbol of the strength of America following the stock market crash in 1987. It depicted resilience and determination. The artist, Arturo Di Modica felt that Fearless Girl, a symbol of Women’s equality in the workplace, undermined his artistic intention because it encouraged a new interpretation of the Bull as signifying dominance and fear, something to be ‘stood up to’ and challenged by women.

Di Modica felt that the addition of Fearless Girl to the site ‘fundamentally corrupted (his) artistic integrity’ (Ruth 2017)

 

Image 1 (Ruth 2017)

My difficulty with this issue is in seeing the Bull (without the girl) as symbolising simply American resilience. To me, this is a symbol of dominance and perhaps aggression and it suggests an uncontrollable power or unstoppable force rather than resilience and determination. Consequently, the meaning of the Bull, for me is little changed by the addition of Fearless Girl.  Fearless Girl perhaps emphasises the bull as dangerous, but she does not re-define it as dangerous. What she does is focus attention on the danger as ‘male’ and consequently on the strength of women. I think that the Girl symbolises resilience and determination far more than the Bull does.

However, in terms of context, I agree that something has changed for the Bull with the addition of this second sculpture and it is interesting to see just how the setting can significantly alter the way in which a piece of art or a photograph can be interpreted.

Bibliography

Ruth, A. (2017). ‘Charging Bull’ Artist Says ‘Fearless Girl’ Should Be Removed and He’s Right. [online] RedState. Available at: http://www.redstate.com/prevaila/2017/04/12/charging-bull-artist-says-fearless-girl-removed-he%e2%80%99s-right/[Accessed 27 Apr. 2017].

 

EYV Assignment 5 Response to tutor feedback

My tutor very kindly gave me his feedback very quickly because he was aware that I hoped to submit my work for July’s assessment.

I will start with the positives

  • Strong ending to the course
  • Some ‘great’ shots
  • Good research
  • Exercise 5.2 strong with good self- assessment

Things to consider

The main issue in respect of my images was in relation to my decision to enhance an already bright part of my pictures using Photoshop. Specifically, I had increased the saturation of the bright orange buildings of the power station to further exaggerate the plant as significant and central to my images. My tutor advised that this technique has to be used very carefully, to avoid appearing naïve. I had acknowledged, in my written submission, my hesitation in editing my images in this way through fear that it might make them look amateurish, but had continued with the experiment.

Having said this, my tutor felt that in one particular image, the colour enhancement worked well, hence his advice to carefully think through a decision to enhance an image, not his advice never to do so. As I write this, in the light of my tutor’s comments, I can see that I applied the edit uniformly, across all my images, and that the outcome may have been improved had I carefully considered the impact of my approach on each individual image. I can also see that the edit was unnecessary and added little to my final project.

Technical issues

  • Small thumbnails on my learning log.

There seems to be a recurring issue to do with my images sizes. I intend to address the immediate issue and look at sizing in general more carefully.

Suggested photographers

  • My tutor recommended Gabriele Basilico for his work on urban space.

In response to my tutor’s feedback, I have decided to make some changes to my final assignment submission. Specifically, I have decided to un-do the colour edits I made and submit my prints using the original colour saturation.

My tutor also commented, about image 7, that it seemed ‘to be too much about colour’. I re-looked at this image and reversed the edits I made. This did improve the image, since I could now see that there had been too much to look at in this image in terms of colour. Ultimately however, I decided to replace image 7 with a different select from my contact sheets:

I preferred the composition of this image, and the colours, and felt that it better reflected my theme of accessibility by the public.

I was delighted with my feedback for this assignment. My tutor said that my work in the second half of Expressing your Vision shows significant improvement. His comments have increased my confidence and motivated me to continue.