FINAL MAJOR PROJECT. WEEK 18.
ON INGRID POLLARD.
A photographer I have been meaning to write about for a while in relation to my own recent project work is Ingrid Pollard and in particular her projects from the 1980s and 1990s. In these she explored social constructs around Britishness, race, and the use of the landscape and cultural iconography therein as vehicles of segregation. Especially in the idea that the British countryside is somehow ‘closed’ to those from BAME communities. As it says in the quote she attached to the image above: ‘it’s as if the Black experience is only lived within an urban environment.’
She explored these ideas in a series of projects including Pastoral Interlude (1987–1988), Seaside Series (1989), Wordsworth’s Heritage (1992) and Self Evident (1995). She ‘worked with material that evoked notions of heritage or played upon nostalgic sentiments associated with the national landscape: the souvenir postcard, the poetry of William Wordsworth and hand-tinted photographs’ (Wikipedia, 2020).
Mark Sealy states in his introduction to Decolonising The Camera that ‘it is only within the political and cultural location of a photograph that we can discover the coloniality at work within it…’ (Sealy, 2019 pg. 2). This to me is evidently what Pollard was exploring and challenging in her projects. If I take this as also being literal in terms of location then it can also be a call to repossess those locations photographically from that coloniality.
For me, in context with where I am at with my own work, there is a sense of reclaiming or repossessing of the landscape (I’ve written about this elsewhere in the CRJ). That the landscape in and of itself is a neutral space, a space that welcomes, nurtures and supports without prejudice. It is the transformation of that landscape into an emblem of national and racial identity that Pollard was challenging as an experience and it is something that underpins my current work and the idea of a myth (in my case ‘Jerusalem’) reclaimed as a political and cultural statement. A place free for all irrespective of colour and/or heritage.
It’s a powerful and necessary thing to challenge the preconceptions we have about certain spaces and who they are used by. Especially one as ingrained in out cultural as the British landscape. It’s an ongoing discussion that plays into preconceptions and prejudices around migration and the ‘other’ – themes which are part of the backbone of my project history.
Whilst building my recent body of work for the FMP I knew that I had to go back to the land as the space within which the contributors had to be placed – yes, it existed beforehand elsewhere in the work but less overtly. This newer recognition chimed with a sense of reclaiming the land and the recording of that through photography, to ‘fix’ it to a time and place. I recognise that in Pollards work and concept.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
Artist Talk (2020): Ingrid Pollard [online]. The Photographers’ Gallery. https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/talks-and-events/artist-talk-ingrid-pollard-online [Accessed 20th Oct. 2020]
Sealy, M. 2019. Decolonising The Camera. London, Lawrence & Wishart.
Wikipedia. (2020). Ingrid Pollard. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingrid_Pollard [Accessed 24 Oct. 2020].