Thursday, 11 June 2015

Bit of a “Eureka” moment!

Leading on from my last post I maintain that for me at least photography is a form of research. I find things that interest me and photograph them until the reasons for my interest start to crystallise out or I conclude that I’m never going to understand.

The range of research I have done on museum curation, archaeology and story-telling with objects clearly foregrounds the issue of curatorial choice and/or incomplete evidence in our interpretation and ability to create narrative. As I noted previously my meanderings on the foreshore left me unconvinced that I could really construct a social history of West Cumbria from the detritus on the beach. I have concluded that rather than seeing this as an obstacle, I need to embrace it as a narrative on the incompleteness of our understanding of the past – on the subjectivity of documentary photography.

In broad terms what I am going to do is identify the 15 categories I discussed previously, produce the images as postcards coupled with genuine textual observations on the interpretation of related finds from the past and couple them together in a set with an invitation to the assessors to scatter them at random and select 15 to build a story ofthe community behind the beach.

There are some theoretical difficulties in this approach in that I have to opportunity to select items to tell some stories more strongly than others, but I would argue that this simply reflects natural or curatorial processes that favour some objects over others. To return to one of my books of the moment, Bahn’s Archaeology: A very Short Introduction, we are constantly projecting messages that reflect our own prejudices and beliefs – so why not produce a work that reflects that?

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