Project 2 Jo Spence (self research)

Having spent some considerable time looking at Jo Spence, I find myself pulled in different directions. Firstly I admire her bravery, her work and how she speaks (or photographs) her mind. She is like me. I say it as it is. On the other hand the Libido Uprising project is just not my cup of tea, although I do understand what she is doing and why. Jo Spence appears to have influenced Gillian Wearing, whom I encountered earlier and I am convinced she will have given strength and courage to anyone who has seen her work.

Her life is somewhat tragic, being blessed with breast cancer and then leukaemia. My heart went out to her when I read her story. The illnesses have also been a catalyst for some of her best work.

The Cancer Shock project, must have been hard to work with, but also cathartic. Is there an element of exhibitionism again in there. I’m not convinced that many people I know would bare all. I understand why this is done but again this is not my cup of tea. I’m also unsure if the general public wold understand what the project is really about or the necessity get get one kit off.

Below is my favourite image that I have seen relating to Jo’s work. My reasons for this are laid out below the image.

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  • I am of an age where I actually remember using Squeezy washing up liquid. It was cheap and naff.
  • The images behind Jo also add to the message about the role of women in life and society.
  • I’m not sure but in the capitalism works poster, the main character appears to be the macho man Clint Eastwood.
  • The mask adds to the fact she is saying woman are being suppressed.
  • The gloves hint at what would have been classed as “women work”.
  • I think artists like Jo, will have awakened some ladies to take up the fight to strive for equality.
  • She is also wearing a wedding ring to add to the fact that she belongs to a man.
  • I am a believer in equality for all.
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Project 2 Masquerades Trish Morrissey

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.

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Image taken from : – Morrissey, T (Not known) Trish Morrissey, Available at: https://www.hawamediaplatform.com/nikki-s-leesimply a gut reaction. (Accessed: 02/08/17).

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.

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Image taken from : – Morrissey, T (Not known) Trish Morrissey, Available at: http://www.trishmorrissey.com/works_pages/work-tfr/workpg-11.html (Accessed: 02/08/17).

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.

Project 1. Exercise

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.

Project 1 Francesca Woodman

Francesca was clearly troubled but is this is not verified by her photography. Yes her work is different to most I see and that which I like and to the untrained eye her images can be quickly dismissed. However I feel that her work needs to be looked at over time to appreciate it in full. The majority of her images are black and white and a lot are 8 x 10 in dimension. She appears to use the full array of greys that are in between pure black and brilliant white, but without having a set style.

Looking into her background, both parents were artists and this will also have had some influence on her work, as will her settings including the time she spent in Italy and at her home in the USA.

Is her work a cry for help? Not for me. I feel t is somewhat exhibitionist as in the image below.

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Image taken from :- artnet (2017) Self Portrait, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976 (P.075), Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/francesca-woodman/self-portrait-providence-rhode-island-1976-p075-a-opJikakzql4MY0pNdn2iww2 (Accessed: 25/07/17).

Woodman is said to have been a feminist, which I can understand, given her images contain many a female nude (mainly herself) but is she exploring her sexuality in a time when this would have been frowned upon? A lot of her work was shot in dilapidated, empty buildings, where she used props to create her images. She was also a great believer in slow shutter speeds, hiding her identity from the viewer. In the image above her identity is also hidden.

Bright, 2010, appears to suggest that her suicide and her mental health were the driving force behind her images, which I feel is harshened not 100% accurate. Yes, her mental health may have played some role, as it does for all photographers, but it is not the overarching meaning and reason behind her images. She may have been trying to tell her parents and friends, through the medium of photography, how she felt about her sexuality and an apparent feeling of emptiness, as depicted by the surroundings she chose. Her shots were planned out, sometimes weeks and months in advance and were even sketched. Her contact sheets were also annotated.

Her suicide has given her cult status in the same way as James Dean’s death, but for me her mental state is not the fullness of her work.

I am not a lover of her work, yet I actually like the images she has created when using the slower shutter speeds. They speak more to me than the other images and make me ask questions such as, why the heels, what is the significance of the straight arms, where was it taken, where is the door she is stumbling though?

Would she be as famous if she were alive and did not end her life so tragically and has the internet helped her notoriety grow?

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Image taken from ;- tate (not known) Space², Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978, Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/woodman-space-providence-rhode-island-1975-1978-ar00350 (Accessed: 25/07/17).