blog

shadow. over

Leigh Ledare,  Mom and Me on bed (frontal),  2006. via  photography-now .

Leigh Ledare, Mom and Me on bed (frontal), 2006. via photography-now.

Unconscious participation in social and political meta-narratives sits in many of our uncomfortable blind spots. Blurred, difficult or not possible to define they are uncomfortable truths that when left unfaced can become daunting and lingering shadows. Leigh Ledare’s photographic works describe such shadows: how do structures unseen, unfelt, unknown and often unloved impact not just the way that we see the world, but also impede us from seeing other potentialities without fear, judgement or derision. Raising questions of transgression, the laws of physical intimacy and the limits of self-affirmation and expression Ledare provide methods for viewers to discover their own biases, unconscious or otherwise.

It is this quality of non-judgemental questioning and soft diplomacy that I find so alluring. Looking at photographs from Ledare’s infamous series “Pretend You’re Actually Alive”, I get the sense that each work subtly asks a simple and direct but powerful question: but why? Why or why isn’t this image confronting? Who defines for the rules of what is confronting? Speculation drive the dominant narrative. Yet all the while an alternative narrative sits parallel to this speculation; why ask any questions at all? Can an image of consented expression be something that we don’t question? Can people ever be simply what they present to the world?

the consequence of what you do to me

In the 1920s Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company standardised the work week to five days. This initiative introduced the work-free weekend and with it gave Ford workers the time to re-invest back into the company with their higher than average wages. It’s difficult to not feel a little disappointed that the reward that many persevere for is in many ways the carrot at the end of the proverbial stick. Which begs the question: who is holding the stick and why?

I’ve recently finished putting together a photographic work that interrogates the circular truth of the contemporary system of vacations and the often unknown environmental and social impacts of travel. The title of the work ‘If you lived here, you’d be home by now’ is taken from an infamous real estate truism that connects the human longing to escape the mechanisms of capitalist life to physical, purchasable commodities that feed back into capitalism. The title accurately demonstrates the aim of the installation: to present the confusing nature of the leisure in it’s intended form as a capitalist device that ‘create[s] the want it seeks to satisfy’ (John Kenneth Galbraith). Now to, ironically, find the funding. More on this work to come.

Duane Hanson, Flea Market Vendor, 1990 via  saatchi gallery

Duane Hanson, Flea Market Vendor, 1990 via saatchi gallery

at home with Larry

Domestic spaces are a frequent source of inspiration for many artists. The colours, forms, textures and patterns that we surround ourselves with are directly related to our political and aesthetic sensibilities that can be appropriated and/or incorporated into artwork. In addition to objects and patterns, other people; strangers, accountants, lovers, parents, siblings, cousins etc. of course have a presence or absence in our private domains. The actions of these others, with their own, individual sensibilities can also prove to be excellent source material as performers of culture.

Larry Sultan’s (1946–2009) 2014/15 LACMA retrospective Here and Home, featuring over 200 of the artist’s non-conventional photographs of domestic scenes, facades and places of interest, included Pictures from Home; a series of enigmatic photographs taken between 1982–92 staged at the artists’ home. A quizzical blend of the mundane and aspirational, each image has a dreamy dead-pan quality that masterfully portrays what it is to dream the urban dream.

Larry Sultan, Practicing Golf Swing, 1986.

Larry Sultan, Practicing Golf Swing, 1986.