Over recent weeks I have been working in the genre of still life photographic tableaux. To do this I have focussed on taking my own photographs of both single and small groupings of still life objects. To begin with I focussed on improving my photographic skills in the studio and setting up tableaux arrangements using objects in my immediate environment. The focus of this recent line of inquiry has been on the performative levels of studio work rather than the constative levels. Over the last two weeks I have begun to address the constative aspects of the work. This focus has come from the need to constellate work around a theme for an upcoming group show in October as well as beginning to move towards the iconographic content I want to work with for my next body of work.
I started with the most successful work from feedback at July Seminar The Stand In. What I have learnt about this work from feedback from my supervisors, crit’s and assessment panel is that the strength of the work is:
Performative levels: Photographed Baked lamb on matt black background with a reflection. Photographic hyper-reality facilitates a sculptural quality for the subject within the work as it ‘holds ground’ within a black void. Materials used i.e. high quality printing on best quality photo-rag art paper enables or enhances a desired ‘feeling’ or presence quality in the work. Choosing to print the work at larger than life size and hung at eye level were decisions to emphasize both the sculptural capacity and the quality of presence that I intended for the work. Strong contrast white and black or use of Chiaroscuro has the effect of adding a dramatic quality as well as impact in a work. When the focus of an image or artwork is on the form of objects, or the shape of a figure, then Chiaroscuro can be very helpful. Strong directional light will lift out details and features, and give a true three-dimensional appearance.
Constative levels: A baked lamb sponge cake covered with icing sugar with a gold bell tied around it’s neck allows for different readings of the work or in other words it is open, non directive. This is Important because, in my desire to create a contemporary language of representation using symbols and/or icons there are dangers; one of becoming too sentimental or equally undesirable and problematic for the work to become didactic or instructive.
Within the work The Stand In the content of the work carried the desire of my intentions in the best possible way, in the middle ground of openness and accessibility. The baked lamb is sweet (in that it speaks of the intentions of a sincere and dedicated baker) and can elicit pathos in the viewer without being too sweet or overly sentimental. The subject of the work [the baked lamb] can carry symbolic meaning referencing ancient historical (pre-seventh century) depiction of the divine on earth, though this is more oblique, it can also carry other levels of content, the domestic or seasonal celebrations as examples. This together with an appropriate and suitable means of enunciating the message (performative) made this work a strong and stand out piece with much for me to unpack and learn from for my work going forward.
Recent works, the skull and the birds nest, are attempts to make works that sit well with The Stand In, within the constraints of needing to develop my own photographic skills (i.e. shifted into taking all of my own images) and having a relatively short time period to work in. These works are in a developmental phase. Other works from experimental groupings of objects are clearly too sweet and have been discarded. I am not sure where I want the work to go at this stage.