In this workshop task we have been asked to represent a relationship through any appropriate visual or written medium. Focusing not on the participants in the relationship but the space in-between which makes up the relationship – this may be a physical environment, it may be an emotional space or it may even be mediated through objects.
To start off the research for this task, we were given a range of photographers’ work to look at that could then give us ideas on how we could explore this task and influence us.
Carrie Levy– ’51 Months’
On her 15th birthday Carrie Levy’s father was sentenced to prison for 51 months. Through his absence, Levy created a series of images that follow her family through the years of his absence, as the void he left is filled with memories and reminders of him, compounded by his absence, from the empty garden, to the road trip to the prison five hours away. The images show of the relationship that she missed with her farther through those years.
This is a beautiful yet simple series, that shows everyday life, yet without her father. The absence of her father and small memories throughout the time he was away continue the relationship between Levy and her father. I personally feel that this series looks at the idea of relationships in a different way, looking at the absence of someone that should be a massive part of Levy’s life. I find it interesting how even though her father is not there, Levy still manages to show his presence in some of her imagery while also showing the absence of him. In my own work I could look at the idea of showing a relationship between someone I am close to yet they are not in my life right now for a particular reason. This makes me think about my time at university and that even though I know my family are still there for me and I can go home to them, I currently am living away from them and this separation and distance could be something interesting to look at.
Joshua Lutz– ‘Hesitating Beauty’
Joshua Lutz’s new book Hesitating Beauty is primarily concerned with, the fragility of memory touched by mental illness. Based on Lutz’s own personal experience with his own mother suffering from schizophrenia, the book interweaves Lutz’s photographs with images from his family archive, and with text that Lutz fabricated, writing letters from the imagined perspectives of his mother and father.
The book is based on Lutz’s life growing up with a paranoid schizophrenic mother, yet the book is “fiction-ish,” Lutz says. Rather than trying to represent the lives of his family members, Lutz sought to convey the experience of attempting to “wrap my mind around my mom’s illness, my mom’s life, my life. It’s something that the photographs can’t do, writing can’t do,” Lutz says. “For me, it’s inexplicable, and so how do you address that thing that’s inexplicable?”
The series is powerful, filled with personal experience and relationships; the work shows the relationship of Lutz’s family and his relationship with his mentally ill mother. The idea of relationships in this series is interesting as Lutz explores a lot of different relationships, an example of this is fabricating letters from the perspective of his mother and father; I think to me the most interesting relationship is that Lutz is trying to understand and get his head around his mother’s illness. There is a relationship between Lutz and his mother but also between Lutz and her illness. This form of fictitious yet based on reality relationship is interesting and could be explored further, I could put myself in someone else’s shoes and look at mine and their relationship from their perspective.
Elinor Carucci– ‘Mother’
In much of Carucci’s work she explores the relationship between herself and her family; her series ‘Mother’ shows a photo diary documenting her journey of becoming a mother to twins, the images are very raw and real, making the relationship between mother and child seem beautiful at times, yet also showing the realities of motherhood, the highs and lows.
In this work, she works closely with her subjects, featuring them in imagery, it is clear they are important to her. Yet I feel she also has a unspoken relationship with all mothers viewing the work, they understand her experience and relationship with her children as they have gone through similar.
In my own work I do not plan to focus on my relationship with a person so literally, showing them as a subject in my imagery, however I do find the work interesting. The work shows a different way of looking at the idea of relationships, in a real and simple way.
All of these photographers look at the idea of relationship in a different way that is personal to them, they each demonstrate a relationship or many relationships in a variety of ways, all that work in their own way. I think it is interesting to see how you can portray a relationship through imagery, and so I plan to take influence from the work I have looked at when forming my own idea for this task.