Reflecting on the pieces of work discussed in this project:
I have spent a couple of evenings reading and looking at images of the artists mentioned in the project, some held my attention more than others. There are also some interesting YouTube movies – for example Tierney Gearon speaking about her career as a photographer. The trouble is I become engrossed and tend to watch the whole video whether it’s relevant to the project or not, in this case just over an hour long! But that’s me – easily distracted! The good thing is that the distraction is about photography in some form or other, therefore I am continually learning.
Gearon says to be able to share her work with anybody – it only takes one person to believe in you, feeds and stimulates. She speaks of the intimacy and spontaneity of using the camera to capture her family, her children in particular, processing things going on in her life. Her images of her naked children have of course raise issues in past exhibitions in the USA under indecency laws. Gearon insists they are innocent images of her children doing ‘everyday things in a beautiful way’.
What I note with all these photographers is that they seem comfortable exposing their private lives, being so open, frank and intimate.
In relation to her above image, when questioned as to whether she really hated sex, Brotherus responded with “It’s not me it’s a photograph. It’s all in your head.” She goes on to say “It’s a good excuse to make things into objects, so maybe somebody else can also identify herself or himself in the situation.” This statement implies that her images are not personal, therefore not autobiographical. However, by agreeing to have her series Annunciation exhibited in the Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity Exhibition, she is dealing with her struggle to become pregnant – very personal and private. The series does relate back to her comment though, in that other women will be able to identify with the situation, thus she is ‘speaking’ for a wider audience. Would her being naked make them pay attention to her work and the accompanying explanation, or would her nakedness turn people away?
In viewing her series “Album” (2003), I certainly didn’t get any sense of Wearing as a person or that she was questioning her role in her family history, or even how her role within the family affected the person she is today – the masks disguise. Personally I feel the masks make her look robotic, cold and even synthetic. She clearly went to great lengths to produce this series, the sculpturing being more prominent than the photography. She even cast her brother’s torso, reminding somewhat of Antony Gormley’s installation where he made cast iron life-size figures of himself. I question whether Wearing is trying to get closer to her family and its history or whether she is escaping from herself?
- The question whether these images work for an outsider without accompanying text?Without text, I do think viewers will be drawn in by natural curiosity and while they may not fully understand the photographer’s intent, they may apply their own perspective and experiences. But I feel that Gillian Wearing’s “Album” series would be difficult to comprehend without any accompanying text.
- Do I think there’s an element of narcissism or self-indulgence in focusing on your own identity in this way? Maybe in the case of the naked images – Brotherus seems particularly at ease with her nakedness.
I don’t think it’s so much self-indulgence as attention seeking maybe. That said it is a luxury to have oneself as the model – always available and at no charge!
Gearon, T. On her career as a photographer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x260oJGuctM [accessed 20th August 2016]