FINAL MAJOR PROJECT. WEEK 12.
In the past week, I have started to define what it is that I have been making since my project’s previous ‘incarnation’ came off the rails. This effort has grown without a completely clear definition. Gut reactions are leading me. All I have been aware of is the impetus to explore the evocative power food has to connect people to their sense (or not) of belonging.
At the same time, I have chosen to look back over work created from right across the M.A. since January 2019. I collated threads or ‘verses’ that combined work in a variety of sequences such as this:
This gave me an appraisal of personal and subjective signifiers across a wide body of work. Some of which I had been aware of at the time. Some of which spoke afresh with the benefit of objectivity that the passage of time can create. From this research I took:
- The importance of the presence and experience of other people in the project, and of the community and hospitality that generates.
- The landscape (or aspects of it) as a direct statement and also framework.
- That food, ingredients, and related natural elements can be curiosities, visual pointers, evocations and invocations.
- The importance of the song or sentence structure I was investigating in Modules 2 and 3 and how that informed my desire to create dialogues between disparate images.
- The overarching this exploration of food is the presence of my father and brother who both passed away in 2019. They had strong connections to food: my father was a chef and restauranteur, and my brother cooked at home for his family frequently using my fathers recipes and maintaining a closer relationship to him through this.
I also knew I needed to create a defined visual language for this so, based on the signifiers I mentioned above, I made the decision to shoot using a single camera-mounted flash and to photograph in the landscape. And each bit of work produced guided me to the next piece and so on. So it has become an ongoing inquiry.
This has been liberating but also, in the context of the F.M.P., anxiety inducing. I don’t have a describable project yet, something I need to have if I have any hope of gaining my Masters.
I have also allowed the work to inform and guide my thematic researching and thinking rather than the other way round. And, as I mentioned in this previous post, the political and social motivations for my original project have resurfaced. Though they are present in a much more covert way than originally proposed. Here I want to quote from Nick Hayes’ The Book of Trespass: ‘The greatest lie of nationalism is that it defends the interests of its nationals. The people it defends, however, are not those it defines, but those who define it. Englishness has always been defined by the landed lords of England and fed in columns of hot air to the landless’ (Hayes, 2020, pg 264). The connection I am making here with this is how easy it is for people to be excluded from the Land in our current nationalist climate. And by Land I mean concept, nation, and geographic place. Especially those of us who are of mixed-heritage or from an ethnic background not deemed ‘worthy’ to be part of it. There is a deliberate attempt to use definitions to separate people from the Land and deny a right of belonging. What Olivia Laing calls ‘the toxic impulse to wall in or wall off’ (Laing, 2020, pg. 305). This is of huge significance for me as I attempt to define the work and draw this thinking together to create a cohesive photographic inquiry as an FMP.
Hayes, N. 2020. The Book of Trespass. London, Bloomsbury.
Laing, O. 2020. Funny Weather. London, Picador.