Exercise – Three case studies

Peter Mansell

In this work Mansell has discovered how expressing one’s thoughts and feelings through photography is a therapeutic process.  He says, “…this form of expression often saw me through pain and anguish whilst the end product acted as a visual statement about my existence and that experience”.  Mansell realised over time that the best way to express his disability was not to talk about it and expect others to listen and understand, but to present images. This method provides a direct relationship with reality – anchoring the message and leaving little room for interpretation. His images clearly convey aspects of his life that others would not easily see or appreciate, e.g. the space his wheelchair occupies in the room.  In the interview Mansell talks about the importance of composition and format e.g. low angle to depict his view from the bed or wheelchair. In my opinion this work brings home the unseen impact of his impairment.

Dewald Botha

For me Botha’s images, tell of how he feels as an outsider living and working in the crowded, hectic environment of the city of Suzhou, China. In this body of work I see Botha’s work as portraying the Ring Road as a metaphor for boundaries – he looks beyond the ring road for a retreat, fresh air and peacefulness. What attracted me in particular was how, through his images, he was able to portray a sense of feeling trapped.  Then he writes of walking the entire ring road as though trying to escape and reconnect with the World as he knew it.

Jodie Taylor

Jodie’s work interests me most and is timely in that I am currently working on family history, memoirs and nostalgia. The images are poignant in that Taylor was able to revisit spaces (many unchanged) from her childhood and recall the play time she had with the local kids.  I had already watched the video posted on WeAreOCA  where Jesse Alexander talks about the way she has presented all her Assignments. This series is presented perfectly in a small plastic album of its time adding to the nostalgia.

The three projects resonate with me in different ways. I found Mansell’s work intimate and moving, portraying his day to day existence and the barriers that stand in his way. Botha’s work gave me a sense of his life in a stifling environment, yet shows how close he is to nature and space. Taylor’s work resonates with me most, refreshing my own interest in my past and her presentation styles brought back many memories

Regarding the question about how I feel about the loss of authorial control that comes when the viewer projects their own experiences and emotions onto my images. I can’t be protective if I allow others to access my images. I think it is inevitable, all art it is open to interpretation. My photographs will prompt a reaction, if that reaction resonates in different ways to different people and means something to them, then I guess my work is appreciated. Others views may not carry the same interpretation or intention as mine, but that’s OK. Why did I take the photographs in the first instance? My photography is developing, taking and making images that portray something more personal. If I wish to hold on to authorial control I can attempt to anchor my intention through the use of text and presentation.