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.

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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 Vivian Maier

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.

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My image, prior to knowing about Maier.
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Image taken from ; – Maier, V (2017) Self-Portrait, 1955 VM1955W02784-03-MC, Available at: http://www.vivianmaier.com/gallery/self-portraits/#slide-12 (Accessed: 01/08/17).

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.

Project 1 Gillian Wearing

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.

Project 1 Elina Brotherus

I have never heard of Elina before and let alone seen her work. Having viewed her website and all of her images I am left with the impression of an artist who is very emotional, self-conscious and experiences profound swings in her feelings due to her childlessness.

Elina is a very talented artist and clearly gives her work much thought and bares her soul and body in many of her images. Her work is similar to Francesca Woodman’s but not the same.

In many of her images she is facing away from the lens, giving me the feeling that she is searching for something, whilst feeling vulnerable at the same time. She is less of an exhibitionist when compared to Woodman and is incredibly somber and melancholy in her work, where she is expressing sadness at involuntary childlessness.

Below is my favourite image from her website. I love the anger, honesty and jealousy in her eyes, when contrasted with the eyes of her surrogate child that she is displaying in a rough, unloving manner. Her dog is displayed as a full frontal nude, which has echoes of many self portraiture images created by Elina. I understand her work better than I do Woodman’s work and feel more closely linked with this artist. She offers simple images that express complex messages. For me this displays sadness but not so much of the angst, and depressive qualities of Woodman’s work.

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Image taken from :- Brotherus, E (2016) CARPE FUCKING DIEM (2011-2015), Available at: http://www.elinabrotherus.com/photography/#/carpe-fucking-diem/ (Accessed: 31/07/17).

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).

 

Part Three Putting Yourself In The Picture

I want to open up part three with some self portraiture I have previously taken. Both images are very different in nature and depict different things and very different styles of photography. One is a boring selfie (albeit with an interesting backdrop) and the other needs more thought. Let’s see where I go in this part with this type of work.

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The wind of change.
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Photo bomber!

I’m the one with the camera in the above image! Hi.