Patrick Photos

A personal photography project

Category: Uncategorised (Page 3 of 19)

Feminist Avant–Garde of the 1970s

feminist-avant-garde

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I went to a talk by some of the artists on show in Feminist Avant-garde of the 1970s at The Photographers’ Gallery a few weeks ago. I took another trip to the exhibition this week now that I have had the chance for the talk to sink in.

Walking round the exhibition a second time did give me a new perspective on what was on display. The first time round I was pretty confused about what the artists were trying to say with their work.

I’m not going to pretend that this time round I was any the wiser with some of the pieces. But that is part of the challenge. If you put the effort to try to work out what is being said, you do get the reward when you finally get it.

Feminism is a complex subject. So it should come as no surprise that the works are also complex too.

It would be arrogant to say that after reading a few books on the subject and doing some research that I know what it was like to be a woman in the 20th Century. I can only speak from the perspective I hold and this exhibition did question my “male gaze” on what was on show. It wasn’t comfortable but then maybe it wasn’t supposed to be.

A question that I raised in my head after the talk was why The Photographers’ Gallery weren’t showing more recent work created by the artists who gave the talk a few weeks back.

What was even more surprising was to be confronted by the large fashion images of beauty pageant winner Joanne Salley on the floor above in the exhibit Simon Fujiwara: Joanne.

Simon Fujiwara: Joanne

My initial reaction was – What. The. Hell. You have an exhibition about feminism on the floors below and then the curators decide to have a “fashion model” on show.

How wrong I was. The film is a personal story of a very modern woman. It is a very clever juxtaposition that shows the issues a woman in the 21st Century now faces.

On my way home I was questioning how much has changed for women since the 1970s and really how much there is still to be done.

Sitter v Photographer

contact-sheet-2

As an experiment I asked the sitter from the last shoot what her preferences were from the above edited selection so that I could compare my choices as the photographer to hers. And this is what Andrea chose.

04-andrea-2016

Andrea

Andrea

So that there was no influence on my part, I did not publish my choices before being aware of Andrea’s choices.

How we see ourselves and how others see us fascinates me. Was this experiment perfect for exploring this? No. But what it raises is whether a piece of work is more about the creator rather than the person being depicted in it. How much, if any at all, did I influence the final choices during the shoot or in the edit process. And how much our idea of beauty affected our choices.

The biggest question of all is if any of these images show the real Andrea? Not just her physical attributes but the real person.

Many thanks again go to Andrea for agreeing to be part of this.

Terence Donovan: Speed of Light

Speed-of-Light

I have to admit that I took my time in going to see Terence Donovan: Speed of Light at The Photographers’ Gallery. The show ends on the 26th September and it has been on since the 15th July.

There is a simplicity to Donovan’s work which I admire and I was shocked to hear on the news back in 1996 that he had taken his own life. Even though professionally he was at the top of his game, there must have been something wrong which made him think that the only solution was to do what he did. (Please do contact an organisation like the Samaritans if you ever find yourself in a similar situation)

What is interesting about his work is that it ended before the digital revolution took place and it was fascinating to see his hand written notebooks detailing the shoots with contact sheets stuck to the pages. Noting down how many rolls of film he used and the lighting set up is wonderful material for anyone interested in the technical side of photography. I’m not sure that there are many photographers who are so meticulous with their notes.

From looking at the work on display, Donovan never took a bad picture of any of his subjects. He managed to find a way to flatter with the picture showing what the person in front of the camera wanted to show you – the “perfect” life. A lifestyle that you may admire or even envy. But I guess that is what all lifestyle photography is about, showing the ideal regardless of what the reality is.

I will end this with one of the music videos Donovan directed, Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love.

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