ONLINE DOSSIER: CRITIC ANNOTATION NO.2
Just after submitting my first citic annotation, I completely changed my topic and process. I moved my project from a photographic dialogue about world topics to an inward-looking soliloquy with a mostly intuitive process.
The film Mrs. Dalloway shows a great example of a soliloquy, especially in the dinner party scene. The character appears happy, but hearing her thoughts, it becomes clear that she is indeed full of self-doubt. This contrast is appealing. My work is a soliloquy with all the mood swings and change of topic that come with it.
Since most of my work in this project is done intuitively, I find it difficult to find words. As photography is my medium, I make the photographs to express something when I am missing the right words. This is where I find Susanne Langer’s philosophy of the aesthetics helpful. She sees intuitive work as a »fundamental intellectual activity, which produces logical or semantic understanding« (Chaplin-Dengrink, 2019, p. 194). This is reassuring, as usually intuition is looked down on. In her opinion, an artwork symbolizes a feeling as a whole and therefore cannot be put in words, as it is too complex. This does not mean I cannot find any words or meanings for my work, but I do not have to have the claim to fully express everything in words.
But what can I describe? Charlotte Cotton’s essay in Photography Is Magic explains how meaning has changed in photography and how important process and context are today. My process, even if it is intuitive, can be put in words, and naming the series soliloquy already does. Context of it is the Melbourne lockdown but can be seen in a larger relation of a general search for connection in a disconnected world.
Under lockdown restrictions, my work area is my home and neighborhood. So, I looked at photographers that worked in restricted conditions or seemed to photograph in one place: Liss Fenwick, Elizabeth Hibbard, Pia Johnson and Xiuan Xiao. Additionally, I studied various elements in these artists’ work. Fenwick, Johnson and Xiao show simple compositions, only a few elements but intriguing light situations. Their work is very detailed and intimate. Both things my work relates to and I am still working on. Hibbard shows a certain sense of humor in her series and most of her images convey the feeling a person present, but they remain anonymous and out of focus. My series is also fun but less quirky. Rinko Kawauchi, Saul Leiter and the movie 3 Women are additional references I explored for their moody or dreamy visual language.
In a second step, I looked at films with sci-fi elements (Melancholia and Solaris) and visual artists that have an unreal approach to their work. Victoria Siemer digitally edits her pictures, but Cody William Smith simply uses a mirror to create a similar effect. My approach in this series is including hardly any digital alterations but still pictures that make the viewer wonder and discover. Therefore reflections, looking through things and shadows play a major role.
I like that most of my references are female creatives, writers, philosophers. In my series, I celebrate femininity with a female model, flowers and pink everywhere.