RESEARCH 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - Crewdson, Export, Wurm, Peirone and inspiration - Too Good to be Photographed

I started my research by looking at the artists who are working with the themes of the failure in various forms. The passion for unexpected and so often called failure came from my previous project “Unwanted” which examines different approaches to the failure. The main inspiration was a project ”Too Good To Be Photographed” by Paul Paper. The project consists of photographs that have been sent to the artist as spare/not suitable images. Some of which were out of focus or odd looking, with unnatural poses.  The project fascinated me so much I wanted to incorporate some of the ideas to my current work. 

This time I am focusing more on the awkwardness of the model and what is called unsuitable pose for a good photograph. I find myself feeling awkward when having a picture taken by someone else, therefore I would like to translate that awkwardness or the oddness of the body through the images, which I also find humorous.

For further research on the body and the awkwardness I looked at the project ”More Than Violet” by Julia Peirone. Her work mostly concentrates on the uncomfortable imagery of teenage girls, when photographer clicked the shutter before the girls were picture ready. Personally, I do not like the project very much, but I appreciate the idea, which further inspires my work. I also understood that my idea for the project is nothing like Peirones’ work.

I came across Gregory Crewdson work a couple years ago and it still fascinates me how his work transforms my imagination to the scene. At first, I didn’t like Crewdson’s work as it seemed “too cinematic” for my liking. In 2017 I was one of the selected students to speak about one particular photograph - ”Mother and Daughter” at The Photographers’ Gallery which in a way, forced me to thoroughly research the artist and his thinking behind the images. The more I researched and looked at the project the more it fascinated me. All of the hidden clues and props have a deeper meaning, which might not come across obvious at first. These highly staged images also are sending a very personal message which is linked to the forest. The people in the landscape are as important as the forest itself and the viewers get to recreate their own narrative because there isn’t one. 

Valie Export is another artist that inspired my project. The visual language that the photographer is portraying becomes very sculptural and engaging. She photographs herself as part of the environment. Her inner-state suggests the body postures which are part of the architecture or nature. Her work is very performative, she poses herself before carefully setting the scene. 

I think my work is very similar to hers contextually and visually, as it has the odd body performance, the nature and the architecture links to it. 

A big inspiration for my project comes from Erwin Wurm work. His ”One Minute Sculptures” or ”Brothers and Sisters” projects gives me a feeling of quick and simple setup, but at the same time very complex situation. I enjoy looking at his projects as they seem effortless, like someone stood up and quickly took a picture, but also he has put a lot of thinking before taking a photograph. It feels like the subjects are going through a tough time and their body positions reflects on that. 

For my own project I am trying to take a similar take - set up a camera and place myself in it, without too much thinking once the camera is ready. It is performing to the camera, for myself and the landscapes. 

REFLECTION 1, 2, 3 - First Shoots and Thoughts

For the first photo shoot, I chose a location that is close to my heart - Wapping (London). I go there often as I feel like that place feels very quiet and often helps me to recharge my energy from the city buzz. I took my friend Angela to a few particular spots in Wapping that I find myself coming back often and scheduled a photo shoot with an idea of awkward, mystery photographs that have no particular storyline. I knew in my head how I wanted the photographs to look like, but I couldn’t tell why I just knew that is the way it should be. I kept thinking of Gregory Crewdson, Valie Export or Poly Penrose work, where each of the photographs has a different story, but at the same time, it could be the same. It is up to the viewer and I liked that idea. I asked my sitter to lay down on the floor, or just stand awkwardly and do nothing. I liked the response, which was: “just like that?”. I was very happy with the final outcome, I liked the images, but something felt not right. The composition and body postures seemed interesting enough to engage with a photograph. Having a sunny day is very useful as it gives shadows to play with. I had a few tutorials with my tutors and it seems that they all saw different things and not quite correct according to my intentions. After speaking to photographer Tom Hunter I felt very positive about the project, but yet it still didn’t feel 100%. He advised to take a few more photographs at the same location, but to change up the object behind, and call the project done, basically.

I tried to move to a different location with a different person. I went to Epping Forest and asked my sitter to blend in with the grass and “just be there and do nothing”. I used a Pentax camera and 35 mm colour film because I felt like the best results would have been achieved by a 35 mm film camera. I choose 6 best images and decided to show them together to my peers and everyone really liked the outcome. I was happy with the images, but still wasn’t happy with the images and didn’t see them working within the project. Then I thought of reshooting the whole thing using my Hasselblad 120 mm camera in order to fit the images together with the rest. Few weeks went by and I haven’t decided anything and have not progressed, so I took a model from the second shoot and went to Wapping again. Each time felt different and I felt like it was somehow triggering my emotions, but overall I was happy with the images, the model did what I asked and composition seemed interesting. I was trying to place a person as a sculpture in the images as if she was part of some sort of story.

In my previous shoots, I have noticed the following pattern of concrete versus plants. Then I tried to change the location once again. I went to the Thames Barrier Park which has well-designed, wavy concrete benches. I asked my model to stand still or lay down as if she was blending in with the surrounding. At this point, I have made a decision of the medium for the project - Hasselblad. I use Hasselblad for my work because it makes me slow down and carefully compose every shot I take. So far, the project seemed to be about the awkward body poses and the concrete - plant contrast. I didn’t like the final shoot. I couldn’t find the connection between my project idea and images I have made so far. The weather conditions changed quickly and it got dark outside. I felt exhausted and very confused about the whole project. As a final year student, I felt too much pressure and decided to stand back from the project for a couple of weeks.

I also spent a lot of time researching and looking for new artists that are working with similar themes. For that, I use Instagram a lot. I only post photography stuff there as well as follow photographers and galleries. For me, it is important to allow some time to think and reevaluate the project and the message that I am trying to say.

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