Yesterday I went to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, it was where some work of mine will be incorporated into work that Artscape has done with the Echoes Group, the opening of which will be next week – something I’m looking forward to quite a lot. However I wanted to see a couple of small photographic exhibitions they have some resonance to the notion of Documentary. The first exhibition is about the work being done to restore thousands of photographs destroyed by the last Tsunami in Japan – I have cropped one of them above together with it’s caption. Clearly the curators saw the connection between the previous Tsunami and the most recent, how the record of one was nearly destroyed by the presence of another, and with the image still covered in the evidence of the disaster this, photograph (of a photograph, of a photograph) of a photograph connects the spectator with an event that most Japanese didn’t even witness, but witnessed vicariously through a media that documented on their behalf. And here is one of those documents being presented and viewed, half way across the world on an exhibition wall as a testament to the twin disasters.
The second are some very formal prints created in Bombay (now Mumbai)
I was interested in these prints for a few reasons, firstly I suspected that I would be in the presence of beauty, platinum prints are usually very gorgeous to look at and these were no exception, low contrast, soft with a wonderful subtlety of tone. Secondly, these were formal portraits and I have seen a lot of formal portraits this year, in Arles with Lebanese and Egyptian. Malick Sidibe’s images are a constant reference, so I like to view these colonial and post colonial images as they generally project something that I feel is artificially aspirational, and these portraits of seemingly, a single extended family have that appearance. It seems also to bring to the fore what I can only suspect is some institutional racism on my part, giving them – the contract between sitter and image maker – little movement in my projection of their identity, as creations of, in this case the Raj.
Not especially significant in the general scope of the course but things to consider………