Her images are very staged as suggested in one of her titles e.g. a Constructed Encounter.
The series portrait of the artist is a substituted self absented way of presenting herself, by using models posing as herself. She is the least exhibitionist of all the artists I have looked at in this part of the course and is still one that is making the case for femininity.
There is some of her work I do not like such as, I am a usual woman. Whilst I understand the principles behind the work and agree with it too, the work appears almost child like and I do not feel fully represents women. May be this is what she wanted us think.
Her images are all about the story and are not necessarily the most beatify images to look at. They are nothing like the work of Sally Mann, whose work I adore.
I am glad I have come across Maria’s work and will revisit it at some stage, but at the minute I am happy to move on.
She clearly is a very talented artist, who can work/perform across multiple disciplines. Looking at her work though, I am unsure at first how she made money!
Following a man and dressing up, disguising herself, was one of her first projects. This is a cracking project well thought through, slightly insane and may even be called stalking these days.
She is not afraid to bare her soul, not body, and does so in a way which exposes herself to answers she may not like.
Her projects are attacked with a statisticians viewpoint, at times, canvassing the feelings of many a person, including in one case a parrot!!!
Her mind must always be working and looking for an artistic angle in all aspects of her life.
Suffering becomes a medium through which she can make art and must be part of the healing project and it is clearly a cathartic exercise for her. This is a common theme with artists of this ilk and one I can understand, given my own creation for my childhood memory.
I have decided to make a composite image conjured up from a number of memories. My childhood on the whole was a happy one, with great parents. Yet I was abused and it is the abuse that is the driver for this image.
Holidays were great times
I always wanted a dog
Religion became important after the abuse
Aged black and white for my memories
All three of the above points are played out in the image, which is deliberately blurred and aged, like my memories. This is partly due to the time that has passed and partly due towhead happened to me when I was about 8 years old.
I’m not sure I like the image, it reminds me of what happened, but it is how I wanted to recreate my memory, which is part of my healing process. It has left me with PTSD.
I am torn between doing some research on a number of photographers. They are ; –
Ok, I have made my choice. I am going to look at the work of Jo Spence. The reasons being, I know her work less than the others, she is a cancer sufferer,and involves herself in politics. My research will not be an in-depth study, but will be a broad brush approach, opening my eyes to a new artist, which fits in nicely with the work I am currently doing on C&N.
First thing that I want to say is that I am commenting here on the Front series (2005-2007) and nothing else.
This work is similar to Nikki Lee’s as previously commented, but for me this takes it one step further, she actually wears the clothes of the missing person within the group. She transforms into to that person. The family snap becomes the non family snap, but something from the film, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
They are a performance and a snap shot, that is not a snap shot, but something that is well planned, well executed and a snap shot that includes a 4×5 camera, a tripod, an expert in photography to stage the overall image. It is a great big whopping lie, with humorous and yet serous connotations.
Her work has echoes of Cindy Sherman and I am more drawn to these than the work of Nikki S Lee, possibly due to the subjects and the settings used. They also make me feel easier about the image than Lee’s work, although I can’t explain why. It’s simply a gut reaction.
I would love to know what thoughts were going through the mind of the kids in this image above. They both seem relaxed enough, although I can see some stiffness and awkwardness is Morrissey.
How would I feel if I were approached, well that would depend on who was asking, the weather and the overall project. Having seen these images I would also ask why they were recreating work that has already been done.
From now on I will discuss some of her other work.
The Failed Realist series, is simply childish expression in the form of face painting by Morrissey’s daughter, from something that she has just experienced. The paintings are pure innocence, yet to an adult they conjure up different ideas than what were intended at inception.
If this is the tooth fairy, I would hate to see the clown from It!
Clearly when viewing images our own psyche and consciousness takes over and may give the viewer a different perspective of the truth. The truth is specific to the viewer and shows how images can be interpreted.
Seven Years is a prop driven series pulling apart the traditional family photographs. It explores the differences between relatives and explore how these differences can create tension. They are all a lie that aims to give answers, but I am not sure the answers you get are the truth as the foundation for the images is does not start with the truth.
Clever work, that creates tensions that may not exist in an original image. The series are thought provoking and not displeasing to look at. They have made me think, but once more this type of work is not my bag.
I think the first thing I want to say about Nikki S Lee, is that she is clearly talented and brave and narcissistic. Substituting herself into others’ groups and images, becoming fully immersed into the subject group. She is an actor and a challenger as wells an artist.
How I read her images is simply, Concept Is King. The quality and the composition of the photograph becomes unimportant, in comparison to the actual narrative she is trying to fit into and portray.
This interpolination appears to transcend different mediums of art and can also be seen in performing arts, animation, painting and sculpture.
What is she really searching for?
Does she like seeing her self in other people’s shoes?
Is she a lost soul, searching for a new and own identity?
Is it my cup of tea, most definitely not, but I do understand that it asks some fundamental questions with photography? The main ones being –
Does an image ever represent the truth?
What is the truth and how do we know when we see it?
Who are we as individuals?
Can you capture the true essence of a person/group in an image?
I believe that she exploits the good will of the group for her own vanity. This then loses the actual identity of the group, as she is in outsider imposing herself fictitiously within it. The group is not “the group” any more, as usually one of the group is missing (photographing the new group) and there is an imposter in there, creating a visual lie, albeit a humourous one.
I do see and understand what she is doing, but this type of work is simply not for me. It’s all acting, posing, and far too self indulgent for my liking. Yes it raises questions, which is good, but I simply don’t enjoy it.
I have been asked to reflect on the photographers I have looked at and add some notes and thoughts on their works. These are added below.
All the photographers I have looked at are ladies. May be this is due to self-expression being more socially accepted amongst women. They are also all white!!!
Is there some evidence of self exhibitionism in there?
Nakedness is a metaphor for vulnerability, baring your soul, being comfortable with yourself, expressing sexual frustration, exhibitionism.
When looking at Woodman’s and Brotherus’ work, I have asked non-photographers for their opinion, which ranges from weird to perverse and pointless. Therefore does this mean such images need to be captioned or further written context should be added?
I believe that Woodman is addressing her own feelings, and is also talking to others about sexuality, vulnerability and empowering women to be more bold, not only in their work, but in their lives in general. Brotherus is speaking to all people, so they can try to have empathy with being involuntarily childless and not to be afraid of who we al are.
Clearly all of the works have some element of self-indulgence in there, but self portraiture gives you a willing subject that is constantly accessible.
I will try to look at some male photographers as I progress through the course to gain a balance.
This is a beautiful book that presents solely black and white images. To me it has an Elliott Erwitt feel to it in some regards as there are many humorous images in there and some where the main subject are dogs.
It is apparent from this book that Maier was able to build up a good rapport with most people and was unafraid to photograph strangers. I imagine this to be very difficult given it was a man’s world she was living in. To me Maier is a pioneer for women photographers.
The title of the book gives the subjects away, but what is not clear is the natural ability she has for making what could be a boring image, become interesting. She clearly had a raw talent and one that understood basic photographic principles, without any formal training. How clever she was. There are a multitude of different photographic techniques in the book, which draw the viewer in, making you feel you are there, with the subject. Images portray humour, but also the hard nature of the life people around her had.
What I also like is that she does not stick to the white race. There are a number of photographers of the black population, at a time when the vile scurge of racism was still accepted as the norm in America. It is great to see her challenge the pure white photography issue. Very brave.
My favourite image from the book is included below.
There are number of reasons why I like this image. I will list them below.
symmetry within the frame
being in the right place at the right time
the cleaner’s shop being in the background, with the two large men cleaning up
there are two burly men, dealing with someone who appears to be smaller in stature
the faces of those watching in the background
the photographer is a lady in a man’s world
this is night time flash photography, which is somewhat unusual
the cigarette held in one of the men’s mouths
I have a number of questions around this about the man?
What had he done?
Was he drunk?
Had he been fighting?
Was he being treated fairly?
Was he picked on due to his size?
What was he wairing a suit?
What was his name?
What was his job?
Where did he live?
Did Maier know anyone in the image?
How did she know where the action would be?
Was she safe on her own in the dark back streets?
How did she feel?
I could go on with the questions, as the image raises more questions than answers.
I feel the book is well worth a look and a handy addition to my collection. Maier was new to me, and I have enjoyed her work and will return to it time and again.
The first thing I note about Vivian Maier is that she was born of Hungarian Jewish heritage, whose family fled the conflict, murder and the utter pointless and vile destruction of the Jewish population in Europe, around the time of the second world war. I wonder if this had an unconscious effect on her work, as I am sure discussion at home would have covered such topics. The reason I raise this is due to my interest in the Holocaust and its’ effects on the world.
The main focus of her work was street photography and self portraiture. It is clear that she did not feel her images were worthy of publication, due to the way these were horded in storage, only seeing the light of day just before her death. My view is that she was interested in the process of making a photograph, rather than the final image, which seems odd given the number of cameras she appeared to own.
Her fame was only really established after death, echoing artists like Van Gogh, Lautrec and Gaugin. This is very sad given her subjects and the quality of her work, both of which I enjoy.
Although a lot of her work itself portraiture it is interesting to note that in these shots, her own image only takes up a small proportion of the overall image. Her face is dead pan, expressionless but the composition is very cleverly done and very artistic in most shots. She is also showing off her surroundings and the people around her. There is also a number of images where she is making use of her own shadow which is something I have done. Please see the 2 images below.
I have enjoyed researching Vivian Maier and may even use some of her work to influence my next assignment. There is one question that I am left with though, and that is what is she reflecting on? The answers are manifold and I will leave this up to the reader to decide.
Well, it’s nice to see an artist that keeps her clothes on!
In saying that she actually abandons her skin in one of her projects, “masks” to reflect her own take own family portraiture and as she is in the shot, adding a strange twist to the self-portrait.
Gillian Wearing is not just a photographer, she is an accomplished artist and adds and thought-provoking take on portraiture.
Masks gives me an uneasy feeling that I believe stems from my childhood whilst watching Hammer horror films as I remember one that appears similar to this piece of work. I just don’t like the masks although I acknowledge this is a good way to express portraiture. It is not a unique way of doing this as another component of masks was Claude Cahun, who die in 1954. They both as the question who am I and question their identity and that of others.