MODULE 4: INFORMING CONTEXTS. WEEK 10.
At the end of last week it was noted by a tutor and some of my peers that my current work lacks consistency. Despite having shown the work already during this module, a lack of consistency had not been flagged up before. So it was a bit of a shock to be told this and to recognise that I wasn’t quite where I thought I was.
I understand that there is a differentiation between the more overtly allegorical work I make and the more ‘straightforward’ portraiture and editorial style work, but it has all been based on the idea of constructed or performative realities. So this new response threw me into some confusion and I have had to push myself through my resulting creative paralysis. A paralysis that was already present due to the constrictive measures that have been the result of the Covid-19 lock-down in the UK.
It’s so important to me that when people view the work they find a way into what I am attempting to communicate, especially as it is born of emotional and psychological intent. I see a lack of consistency as a warning sign that the work (and therefore my own motivations and ideas) is not communicating – there can be a diversity of imagery in a project that will still reach out to it’s audience (for example in the work of Wolfgang Tillmans and Rinko Kawauchi).
Even more concerning is the fact that apparently only a few weeks ago the work must have had at least some consistency. So what has changed?
I’m not sure I can answer that just yet. I know that I’ve been deliberately experimental during this module, and have been encouraged to be. Perhaps I’ve overdone that? Perhaps that’s a problem for people. It was pointed out that I may have two or three strands within the same project. That’s always been evident, I think, and was one of the strengths of my practice at this stage as I was deliberately trying to combine these strands in a way that might support a narrative, poetic drive; one that gave a certain level of ambiguity to the viewer to utilise their own imagination and experience. Now I’m not so sure.
Throughout the four modules I’ve seen all my work as potential candidates for the final major project -so it’s not like the work in this module has been made out of context from that notion (for me anyway). It could well be that this was an issue at this tutorial: the people viewing the work haven’t had the same journey with it that other tutors and myself have had.
Obviously, you know, we are talking about personal opinions at the end of the day, and I do have to stick by my own work, but this has stymied me and I’ve had to really dig deep to plan and enact some next steps. Allied to this, as I’ve mentioned, is the impact of the sudden societal changes due to Covid-19 and the UK lockdown we are all experiencing. Creating work has changed dramatically and I’m still trying to find a way of moving forward with that. I’m not even sure if I’m going to be making work that actually has relevance to my wider project theme anymore, and that’s confusing and scary.
I work best through practice-led research, something I learned from photographer John Darwell when he mentored me as part of the Redeye Network’s Lightbox programme a few years ago, so I have needed to dig deep this week and push into that process.
One thing that has struck me during this time of isolation we are experiencing globally, is that there are resonances with the cultural and racial isolation I’ve experienced at times throughout my life. Perhaps this offers me some way to key into new work and, although I don’t have a vision for that in terms of how it might or might not fit into my wider practice, I’ve used that this week as a starting point – the work presented here is as a result of that seedling notion and impetus.
As there are tight restrictions on our movements at the moment, I chose to shoot at dawn in the local park across the road from where I live and then at home. Although I had that seed of motivation in my mind, I wasn’t sure what I would find or what I would respond to though I knew I wanted to ensure that I was in some of the images and that I was going to use the park’s tennis courts as a location because tennis has huge significance for me as my deceased brother and I used to play it together a lot when we were younger. But I didn’t want to limit myself so I also I ensured that I remained open to other things that might trigger a response in me, including things at home.
In a recent pop-up lecture course leader Jesse Alexander said that this strange time we find ourselves in was perhaps an opportunity to be playful. I had to force myself to remember that this week as a way out of my paralysis. That is not completely resolved yet I have to say, but I think the only way out for me is to keep making work with an ongoing sense of inquiry, to respond to this situation we are all going through in the best way I can and to accept that at present there is no resolution. Jesse also suggested that this was a time to focus on the intent of the work rather than the aesthetic, this is something that I am keen to maintain, so that was present for me when I made this work.
Only 10 days ago I had an incredible sense of momentum behind my project work. I have lost that at the moment. In fact, I would say that I ground to a halt over the weekend and had no inspiration whatsoever. That, too, is part of the process, it’s just not a great feeling. It causes me anxiety and worry and I have had to dig really deep to move forward and regain a sense of authority over my my work and process.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Rinko Kawauchi http://rinkokawauchi.com/en/
Wolfgang Tillmans https://tillmans.co.uk/