Viktoria Sorochinski – Lands of No Return

© Viktoria Sorochinski

Tableaux images have been a theme throughout part five of the course and I have been looking for examples beyond the references in the course materials. In the July edition of the BJP there is a short article about an ongoing work by Viktoria Sorochinski, entitled ‘Lands of No Return’.

Focusing on her home country of Ukraine, this project explores the remaining authentic villages in the rural parts of the country, often now only inhabited by the elderly. There is a tangible sense of something passing in this very engaging and evocative set of images and Sorochinski uses a mix of formal portraits , informal portraits and still life scenes to provide a narrative setting out the circumstances  around these dwindling communities. there is an extra poignancy given the current political tensions between Russia and the Ukraine.

© Viktoria Sorochinski

What particularly interested me was the framing and content of the still life images and the square format the artist had chosen. I am sure whether these are staged still life scenes or items in the village houses as the artist found them. Irrespective of the background to these images it is the still life work that reveals something about a way of life that is passing, a simplicity probably not enjoyed by those that have moved to the cities.

© Viktoria Sorochinski

It is also perhaps the interplay between the formal and informal portraits that anchors this work and the light it shines onto a fading way of life that once existed across Europe that is now being taken over by a way of life in which the occupants of these marginal and elderly inhabitants have no place. The work is capturing history before it is lost.

This work has given me much to think about in how to order images to create a narrative that describes more than that written of the faces of the subject so the work.


Projects : Viktoria Sorchinski i:  British Journal of Photography Issue 7861, July 2017

Viktoria Sorchinski Lands of No Return, found at: (Accessed June2017)

Clear of People -Michal Iwanoski

I pre-ordered this photobook by Michal Iwanowski at its design stage, long before the printed artefact came into being.

Having heard Iwanoski speak at the OCA Landscape Symposium last year I was drawn not only to the final prints in this work, but more importantly to the rationale and artistic intent that underpinned the work. Landscape as a repository of history and memory is a theme I am developing in my own practice and Iwanowski has created a visually evocative work that to my eyes encodes two individuals epic journey in a desolate and hostile landscape, littered with ghosts of a recent and troubled past.

© Michal Iwanowski

Clear of people records in pictures, the re-enactment and I choose this words carefully, of an epic journey made by two of the artists relations, his grandfather Tolek and Uncle, Wiktor. In 1945 they escaped from a soviet concentration camp in Kaluga and the two brothers made an epic 2200km walk back to their home town of Wroclaw in Poland. passing through several states they risked capture and worse very day o the three month odyssey. 

The brothers walked at night to minis the risk of being seen, using remote and cross country routes avoiding settlements so the they did’t encounter  people who might see them and report them to the authorities. This would have led to the return to incarceration or worse. Their journey must have been fraught with danger. There is nothing about this journey that is ordinary or easy. It is a concrete example of the triumph of the spirit over adversity. That spirit driven by notions of love, family, home and belonging. Interestingly like many war time exploits

© Michal Iwanowski

Seventy years latter using a hand drawn map with notes given to Iwanowski by his uncle, he re-enacted the journey. Again avoiding people and travel through a landscape that still held close to the past Iwanowski has created a visual record of his version of the Tolek and WiKtors journey. He was questioned by Russian police during the journey and also felt the sense of isolation and challenge is uncle and grandfather must have felt, although he was not under the same pressure thy must have been. he also allowed himself the luxury of hotel accommodation. This doesn’t detract from the body of work he has created however.

The images in the book are haunting, some with a hint of foreboding, I have been trying to decode the elements of the images that give me a sense of foreboding, because this is a powerful tool to develop in my own work. In part it is the interplay between the text and the image. Iwanowski sets a clear and detailed scene and context for the work, so having read his introduction I know I am seeing the work through his re-0enectment of his relative’s journey. I choose the word re-enactment carefully because the artists sets out in his text how he tried to recreate some of the conditions NN and BB experienced.

The landscapes are a mix of sweeping vista’s desolate roads and ominous forests. Images of distant houses some ruined and others far away but just close enough to make out lights and humanity create a tension about Tolek and Victors quest for home, but threat of discovery and its consequences never being far away. Natural and man-made obstacles add to sense of the challenge of the journey. From quite a mixed collection of images there is a coherence created by the sense of a lonely and dangerous journey.

© Michal Iwanowski

The book itself which was delayed in production is a simple but visually beautiful artefact. its simple card cover and ‘lay flat’ binding contains subdued colour prints. All rectangular images. some time a small image set against the background of a white tow page spread, other pages contact full spread landscape images that fill the pages.  Near the end of the volumes there are very nicely copied archival images, family photographs of Wictor and Tolek before the war, letters, notes from the backs of photos and official documents. set against this is the sort of their family and the the journey. this is a piece of living oral history committed to pare in the life time of one of the travellers. The overall effect of this section of the book is simultaneously, melancholic , a hymn to a lost generation, but also deeply uplifting in the triumph of their spirit and tenacity to overcome the circumstances they found themselves in.

I am smitten by this work!

This is a work I will continue to return to in my own quest to improve my personal practice and find that elusive personal voice.


Iwanowski, M. (2016) Clear of People, Brave Books, Berlin

Clear of People: found at: (Accessed May 2017)

Charles Latham, Cyrus (2006)

My tutor suggested that I  should look at this work i response to a recent assignment submissions. I could find little on line about Latham but did manage to get hold of a copy of Bright’s(2010) book : Autofocus, the self Portrait in Contemporary Photography. I was pleased to get the book as self portraiture and auto images have very much been a developing theme for me in Context and Narrative.

Latham’s work is unusual, but strangely compelling. Bright describes how Latham created an imaginary friend called Cyrus in response to a chain of events. Starting with the artist posting images of himself online in the act of self harm, following the break up of a relationship. Some sort of reactions followed to his post that led to the creation of this imaginary friend. Cyrus subsequently carries much of what Latham doesn’t like about whimsies and his comments quest kin Bright 2010 suggests a tension between cyrus being a mini and simultaneously a repository for fear and self loathing. 

It is an intriguing work in that it asks a question of me the view about is cyrus lather, or is he a a vehicle for lather to exercise his demons. My gut feeling falls on the latter.

What is perhaps more significant is Lattham’s use of the self image as a tool to reveal things we don’t like in ourselves without actually saying they are us. Cyrus is a ‘proxy self’ and i am intrigued by the idea of porters of proxy selves’ I may explore this further in future work but for now have added , Latham to my mental  gazetteer of intriguing photographers!


Bright, S (2010) Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography, Indigo, Toronto

Madame Yevonde (1893-1975)

© Yevonde Portrait Archive













Yevonde Middleton was a society photographer photographer known as Madame Yevonde. Born into an affluent family she attended several independent girls schools and by all accounts was a free thinking and motivated woman in a time when opportunities for women were less available than today. She was active as a society photographer from 1914 until well after the second world war. She was one of a list of photographers whose work my tutor suggested I look at. I was previously unaware of this artist, but am pleased to have been introduced to her work.

An internet search revealed some highly engaging , cinematic images that stood out because of their vivid colours and strong composition. There is also something of the surrealist in some of the images and I am remided of the portrait work of Man Ray in some of the compositions. The striking difference is  Madame Yevonde’s use of colour.   I subsequently discovered that she used a

The interest in colour probably stemmed from her father whose business manufactured printing inks, the young Yevonde had been exposed to the work of her fathers business from a young age. After leaving school she worked with the photographer Lallie Charles not quite finishing her apprenticeship with hime and setting up her own central London studio as Madame Yevonde at the age of 21. Having a wealthy father to assist certainly will have helped, but her work to my eye stands out as being strong and innovative. Using ocular would not have been the norm so i suspect she was also a risk taker. Her early inters in women suffrage reveals itself in her work, there are images of strong female characters, which must have pushed against the tide of the times.

The process she used was called Vivex and was produced by Colour Photography Limited of Willesdon. A three part negative process, that at one time accounted for 70% of the colour work i the UK. The process was finished in 1939 with the onset of the war and never restarted again. However Madame Yvonne recreated the process and continued to use colour after the war. Many famous people had images made by her but from my brief research it is her images of women that really stand out

by Madame Yevonde, Vivex colour print, 1936

In addition to portrait work she also undertook fashion and magazine work as well as advertising work. In the Archive referenced below there is also some documenters work recording the artisans at work in the fitting out stage of the Queen Mary liner. Of all her work i found this the most engaging. The mix of beautiful and creative composition employed in a documenter project make for some very original documentary photographs. The image below shows the artist  Doris Zinkeisen painting column of the Cunard liner in the 1930s before it went into service in 1934. At a time when documentary photography would almost have been exclusively  black and white, Madame Yevonde was truly a colour pioneer, long before Bulmer, Egglestone or Parr!

Things that I take from this work include:

  • Colour Pioneer
  • The very brave, imaginative and bold us of colour
  • Commercially very successful
  • Painting like quality evocative of the pre rephealites
  • Strong cinematic composition
  • The use of a complex technical process
  • Use of very imaginative theme for tableaus images, mythology in particular
  • Not as well know as she ought to be!

As an end note I have to say I am surprised this artist is not as well known as some of her contemporaries. Her work to my eye is every bit as engaging as Beeton, but she would appear to be eclipsed by others?


Madame Yevonde Archive, found at: (Accessed May 2017)

Madame Yevonde – ‘Godessess’ Found at:;_ylt=A9mSs2bEwy1ZhBUAtI5LBQx.;_ylu=X3oDMTB0ZTgxN3Q0BGNvbG8DaXIyBHBvcwMx (Accessed May 2017)

Madame Yvonne by Lawrence Hole, found at: May 2017)

Asssignment 4 – Feedback

I received feedback for assignment 4 from my tutor and as I had expected my assignment needed more work if it is to meet the brief. Whilst there were a number of positive comments about what I had written, the fact that had left a number of questions unresolved meant that the work was unresolved.

The feedback is very valuable though and I will redraft the assignment taking on board the comments my tutor made.

The full feedback can be found here: Assignment 4 Feedback J.O Tutor Report 4

In response to the feedback I sent what is set out below to my tutor:

Dear Matthew,

Many thanks for your feedback on Assignment 4. You will have read in the preparation section on my blog that I had some struggles with this assignment. I don’t have issues with writing but this type of writing is new to me and I recognise I need to work at it. I am pleased that the descriptive element of the assignment appears to have been ok, but I do see that I didn’t reach a proper conclusion and left more unanswered and unresolved. I guess defeating the object of the exercise! I think I hit a point where I just thought I needed to complete the work and submit it or I would have just kept going around in circles.

It has been a valuable exercise though, and your feedback has given me some helpful suggestions about how I might resolve some of the questions I left hanging in the submission. Your reference to Frank’s outsiders eye and the potential influence of European film noir set me thinking. There is something of the cinematic about the image and certainly film noir ‘esque’ (if I can say that!) Rather than the European tradition there is something to my eye, of the Hollywood ‘Chandler’ or ‘Hammett’ atmosphere to me in the image. Also, thinking about the image title, it does suggest something about drama. I think I became to fixed on tracking down exactly what the title meant In a literal sense) and it was this I focused on rather than what Frank might have been intending to communicate. My head works better in the empirical, but I need to begin to operate in the theoretical and the imaginative. I will use these thoughts to commit to a personal perspective that resolves the questions I posed in the essay. To compound arriving at a personal conclusion I think I also felt a bit of a block in arriving at a personal viewpoint given so many others have written so much about the meaning of Frank’s work, although I didn’t refer to that either!

I am interested in the notion of the ‘privileged flanuer’ that you refer to and will look up some of the references you made in the feedback. The idea of critique from those that remain in the mainstream with all its advantages, but critique what is around them seems a valuable area to delve further into. I did a quick search around Wilson’s ‘Outsider’ and have ordered a copy as it looked quite intriguing.

With all the above in mind I am going to redraft the essay in an attempt to come to a firmer conclusion about the image, using the permission that Frank himself gives in the quote at the end of my initial submission.

I will also look up some of the photographers whose work you have suggested that I consider further. Several are names that I am familiar with and Wearing and Crewdson are artists whose work I have blogged about in this course. Others are entirely unknown to me so I will seek them out.

I am pressing ahead with part 5 and pleased with the progress I am making. I have begun this weekend to start to plan, all be it in outline,  ideas for Assignment 5. I am keen that this is a piece of work that reflects what I have learned along the way during C&N. Many thanks again for your helpful critique, it is appreciated.

Best wishes


Exercise: Record a real conversation with a friend

Record a real conversation with a friend. (It’s up to you whether you ask permission or not!)

Before listening to the recording, write your account of both sides of the conversation.

Then listen to the recording and make note of the discrepancies. Perhaps there are unfinished sentences, stammers, pauses, miscommunications etc.

Reflect upon the believability of re-enacted narratives and how this can be applied to constructed photography. What do you learn from the conversation recording process and how can you transfer what you learned into making pictures?

This was an interesting exercise for a variety of reasons. I should say at the outset that for professional reasons I have a well developed memory system for listening to aural information, processing it and then feeding it back in as accurate a manner as possible. Indeed retaining one of my professional accreditations involves an annual assessment based upon listening to the three way conversation in controlled conditions and feeding back a detailed summary and synopsis of the key points from the triad. Dropping below an 80% accuracy level means failing the test and not getting the accreditation. This would be serious for my employment, so I am well prepared, attentive and regularly practicing this skill.

Against this back drop I recorded a conversation with a friend as part of the exercise. I pondered on whether I should say I was recording the conversation or not and in the end decided to record it secretly. I know this throws up a whole raft of ethical issues, but I felt that if I alerted the friend that I was recording the conversation it would have led to a different and less natural engagement, the dynamic would have been different and my friend perhaps more guarded.

In order to manage and address the ethical problems this approach I am revealing nothing about the friend, who they are, not even their gender or relationship to me. I also deleted the recording once I had completed this blog entry. Given some of the personal characteristics of the friend, I think there is a high probability they will never know about this blog entry and OCA exercise and anyone looking at the this online would never know the identity of my friend.

The topic of the conversation was taxation, rebates, engaging with the local tax office and the implications of in complete personal information and records. I need to sayat the outset  that myself and the friend have nothing to do with HMRC, nor the world of the fiscal! This just happened to be the conversation. My friend had a range of concerns and our conversation was about those concerns an might attempt to are advice and support, all of this at a personal friend to friend level and not from the stand point of expertise in taxation. My only knowledge of taxation is that I am a taxpayer!

The conversation was 17 minutes long during which time my friend was initially upset because of a personal circumstance. During the first 8 minutes I listened and made a small number of comments mostly affirming support and a desire to assist someone who was experiencing some real difficulties. In the latter part of the conversation based upon the information gleaned, I offered some suggestions, that might be interpreted as advice but were all caveatted with a denial of any claim of expertise on tax affairs. The conversation ended much more positively than it started with the friend listing for themself a set of actions they were going to follow up on. I left the conversation with a sense I had offered a listening ear and assisted the friend ‘see the wood for the trees’ around what they needed to do next.

Before listening to the recording a I made a written record of the key elements of the conversation as a sort of table of contents. There were 14 distinct elements I picked out during the exchange. These elements were all based upon what I felt where the most significant things we discussed. I also gave each of the 14 elements a ranking of importance based upon a reading of my friends worries and concerns. I completed my write up by listing the key words at the start of the conversation that framed the whole dialogue and also the actions my friend was going to pursue following the conversation.

As the above suggests, I brought my clinical and forensic professional approach to my review of the conversation. Listening then to the recording I learned something new about myself and my approach to listening and mentally recording conversations.

As stated above I have a tried and literally tested methodology for recalling conversations. What struck me about listing to this recording was the subtle nuisance of my friends emotions at different points in the conversation. My list of what was covered , how the conversation started and was framed and how it finished was as I suspected very accurate. However the relative importance I had assigned to the different elements of the conversation was challenged by the recording. Some of the things that I had recalled as being the most significant where called into questions by a review of how things were said in he recording rather than what was said. Although my recall was generally very accurate listening again to the conversation made me ask some questions about how I had interpreted  some aspects of the conversation. It made me think that accuracy of recall is not all about the content,  it is also about the nuisance, tone and what is sometimes not said. I didn’t have some revelation that my professional technique for listening was wrong, but it did make me think that my analytical approach can at times miss subtle aspects of meaning, particularly when dealing with something that is upsetting to one or more of the parties in a conversation. I then left the exercise and spent some days pondering on its relevance to photographic practice.

In considering the believability of of re-enected narratives, there will always be an element of bias , with the author (or participants) of a work recalling an event or events through a lens of their own perspective, biography, motives and intent. The concept of accuracy, which might link to more forensic perspectives on recall and memory has itself some limitations. There are a variety of contradictory perspectives on human memory and recall and there is a whole other potential blog post about neurons, axons, short term , long term memory and the bias and hierarchy when memory is being encoded, but  I feel myself drifting into the work of my professional life here, which in many respects I am trying to escape in this OCA work!

Reflecting on listening back to the recording I made of the conversation, where my focus had been on accurate recall of the content, I must confess it was the tone and cadence of my friends comments that I had paid less attention to. Language and communication are manifold concepts and meaning is transmitted through more than the words. Indeed meaning is created through the interplay of phonemes, pitch and intonation. In English we also have the added complication of not actually saying what we mean, our language is abstract at times, with us often not actually saying what we mean but rather, coding what we mean through tone and body language.

Where does this take us in terms of making pictures and re-encated narratives? Well I think we need a healthy scepticism about what we recall and we need either to check what we believe we saw , heard or did with a variety of sources. I often think about returning to my primary school as part of a visit, shortly before it was demolished. What I was confronted with as an adult did not fit with the recollections I carried in my head. For this reason we need to apply external references whenever possible.

Some summative thoughts:

  • Be skeptical about what we recall from our past
  • Be skeptical about memory in general
  • Where ever possible look for external references that will help shatpe recollections in to something that is closer to the truth
  • Accept that the past is gone and only a trace remains, even images only tell prt of the picture
  • Re-enactment or recreation of a past event can only ever be a subjective act with all the caveats about accuracy and truth

The Fae Richards Photo Archive – Veracity in the Ficticious!


“The Watermelon Woman came from the real lack of any information about the lesbian and film history of African-American women. Since it wasn’t happening, I invented it.”                                   

Dunye and Leonard’s work: The Fae Richards archive strikes me as the use of a construct, indeed engineered fiction to tell about women, lesbianism in the Black community and the absence of real figures from this group in film, or in fact in contemporary American history.

Without doubt there were almost certainly black American lesbian’s in Hollywood, however the prevailing orthodoxy and power of the film studios must have made it impossible for women, let alone African American women to come out into society for much of the 20th Century. Black women will also have had racism to contend with compounding them being able to live an open life with regard to their sexuality. A further dimension was also the very traditional view of the church’s in black communities who to this day can have a negative stance around homosexuality.

In tha absence of genuine historic evidence, Leonard and Dunye have created a fictitious movie star, Fae Richards. Using traditional photographic styled records such as publicity images, family album images, film stills, candid images, the character of Richard is brought to life. There is a veracity to the fiction through the use of photographic evidence that looks very plausible. Although a falsehood, the faux archive tells of a wider truth and for me poses the question; can there be more truth ain a fictitious archive than in a genuine documentary archive where the honesty and intent of the photographer is unknown?

I am genuinely intrigued by this work and Dunye’s notion of ‘photographic falsification. We covered quite a bit about the photo as ‘document’ earlier in the course and as noted at the time in reference to Wells(2009) Photography as a technology can manipulate how we perceive the world around us. It is this very idea that Dunye and Leonard exploit using what they describe as ‘archival conventions’ to tell us about the life of black women who have never been included in the collective 20 century history or archive. This to me seems to be a process where the ends justify the falsehood.

Reading about this work has set me thinking about assignment 5 and how I might use the idea of a fictional narrative


Wells, E. (2009)Photography: A critical Introduction Routledge, Abingdon

The Fae Richerds Archive. Birmingham City University Art & Design Archives for cross discipline creative practice, found at:

Archives – Some personal thoughts

Do you have any archives that you could have access to? might you be able to use it for the beginning of a project? Blog about some ideas that you could comeback to one day.

As my previous blog entry highlights I have access to a large archive of family images, plotting the stories and journeys and eventual leaving home of me and my 2 siblings. We all hold different elements of this collective but fragmented  family archive. My father was a keen amateur photographer and there are thousands of image in monochrome and colour plotting and recording family trajectories. They also have a topographic character as they record us in a variety of places over time. we have of course all added to it in new and different ways.

As part of this family and personal story I also have a large personal archive on film and on hard drives of my own photographic work, from school boy darkroom experiments, to family snaps, actions images and to more serious photographic projects. This archive intersects my wider family archive creating a different trajectory.

I have for some time pondered on the idea of a topographic biography, by this I mean images of places that tell a wider story of transition, personal experience and the passage of time. I was born in a other country, I came to this country, we moved around as children, as an adult  I have repeated and extended this cycle. I have a very broad sense of what constitutes home and it is not defined by location, but rather by those around me.

I think it is this personal sense of transience that has been at the heart of my keenness in and developing photographic practice around people and place, my own work often centres around recording people and place to try and reveal some about time and culture. I am certain there is the potential for a significant project from these ideas. I recognise I need the assistance of academic tuition to develop and distill this idea further, a  level 3 project perhaps?

Postscript thought

I have along side my archive of negatives and photo;’s a growing virtual archive, recored in zeros and ones, hidden in solid sites hidden in blocks of silicon, out of sight inside the cards that slowly get bigger as time passes. Unlike their analogue counterparts they offer no glimpse of the past, only a question around what might they contain. I imagine this virtual archive is far more , the lot of the modern image maker and photographer. I ponder on what future generations might make of these electric images. What is the potential for a future Nicky Bird or John Maloof in a collection of cards and drives?


Question for Seller Exercise

Question for Seller re-situates images in a different context and in so doing allows for a new dialogue to take place. Reflect on the following in your learning log:

  • Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images an elevated status?
  • Where does their meaning derive from?
  • When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their value increased by the fact that they’re now ‘art’?

Nicky Birds work genuinely intrigues me. I am drawn to found photographs and their potential. Before getting to the questions in the exercise I want to think out loud about Bird’s work first. The idea of finding images on  Ebay and bidding on those that had no other bids or interest struck me as a very unique starting place to make art. Perhaps Birds background and interest in social history, biography and archeology where her starting points for “Question to seller’. Looking at her other work and particularly’ Beneath the Surface/Hidden Place which links found images from the past with their original location as its is now acts as a sort of conduit across time. There is a sense of history brought to life through the juxtaposition of the old and the current. As her website suggests her: ‘work investigates the contemporary relevance of found photographs.’

I couldn’t help compare this work with elements of Subotsky and Waterhouse’s (2014)  ‘Ponte City’. In this work the artists made images of a giant and decaying brutalist tower block ‘Ponte City’ in Johannesburg. Elements of the work used found photos and then re photographed them in the location where they were originally taken. This idea of an image being used again to make a link across time and in doing so pose question about where the occupants are now is to me highly engaging

Question to seller is though something more than just the image she bid for and won on eBay. As the title suggests she asked the seller about the images, in some cases they know nothing about the origins in others she gleans bits of information about the photographs. It is the interplay between the image and the sellers response that creates the work. there is one final stage and that is reselling the work, that is the image and the responses from sellers on eBay. There is something cyclical and final at the same time. To me the image takes on a new meaning, it isn’t merely a two dimensional artefact, but a small slice of someones history with an accompanying bit of text that may reveal something about the image or indeed offer nothing but questions.

Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images an elevated status?

I think there has been much written about what ends up in galleries, who chooses it and what this means to its value, beyond a specific question about Birds work. Berger (1972) talks about an elite in the past deciding what was displayed in a gallery as does Sontag, when talking about documentary photographs taking on a new value when shifted from the documentary form to the art form. Barrett (1986) in his work about Photographs and Contexts suggests:

‘The photographs placement in a galleries above all a tribute to the sensibilities of its maker”

All this suggests that there is an elevation in status, although this too will be context specific. An image displayed in a gallery at MoMaA may be perceived to have greater value and status  than an image displayed in a small local gallery? Another valuable will also be the retain and standing of the artist, which in turn my shift the value and status of a work, irrespective of the display space. in summary this is a tricky area with a variety of factors at play all of which have a degree of subjectivity.

Where does their meaning derive from?

In Bird’s work there is a clear interplay between the source of the image, the images, her questions to the seller, the sellers responses and the display of the work with the dialogues with the seller. In this sense the work is far more than just the image. The combination of all the elements create a wider work of art. There are layers of narrative, those within the image those with thin the text and the interplay between all these companies. there is also the individualised and subjective meaning that the viewer brings themselves, particular given the natures of the images a family photographs. We all have our own archive of these. Looking at other families photographs sets of in me thoughts of my own biography as recored in a fragmented set of images all residing on photographic paper in various cardboard boxes in different locations around the country. Fragments held by different family members. The idea of unifying this archive a distant and almost impossible fete!

When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their value increased by the fact that they’re now ‘art’?

In answering the question I first need to explore the notion of value. It might refer to a purely monastery idea and perhaps does in this context give the original source of the material. it might also mean a things intrinsic work?

Exploring the idea of monetary worth, in simple terms the auctioned work raised more money than the original images cost to purchase. The Belfast Photo video suggest the work achieved £205. There has of course been work and activity on the part of the artist and in the value of any work the artist will also be a feature of the monetary value of the work. The cost of art made by sought after artists will be driven by a supply and demand equations, that means that for example, reproducible prints from an original negative by for example Cartier Bresson can fetch $12,000 (source Artnet- Print Price for a copy of Behind the Gare Saint Lazare).

So in simple terms the answer to the question is probably yes, over time depending on Bird’s wonder work this item may go up in value. It may have already been auctioned again, in the cycles that is a feature of many works of art, that of the auction after auction after auction. indeed the work has an allegoric statement to make about art works in general, beyond the individual meaning within this work.



Barrett, T. (1986) Teaching about photography: Photographs and Contexts, Art Education. Found at:

Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing, Penguin, London (Accessed May 2017)

Berger, J. (1967) Understanding the Photograph

Sontag, S (uyuy) On Photography, Pengiun, London

Subotsky, M. & Waterhouse, P. (2014) Ponte City, Steidl Verlag, Berlin Bird: Quest to seller:(Accessed May 2017) (Accessed May 2017)

Interview with Nicky Bird, Photoparley, Found at: (Accessed May 2017)


Reflecting on the factual and the fictional

As stated in previous blog posts my developing practice is in the area of documentary image making. Initially a bit worried about the implications and what I might need to do  in this part of the course around constructed and fabricated images I have become progressively more intrigued . In no small part as a result of following up some of the photographers whose work is referenced in part 5 of C&N.

Starting with Tom Hunter, the idea of creating or even replicating elements of a news story through the construction of a scene that is representative of, rather than being the actual scene that might have been used in a newspaper, offers the opportunity to use a fiction to tell about a truth. There is also something about the use of the aesthetic to engage the vower in Hunters work, the course materials refer to Hunter drawing upon painting in his approach. The image below is a good example

© Tom Hunter

The scene of a road rage victim lying down with the menacing figure of the perpetrator standing over them is one that is unlikely to be seen in a newspaper, the sodium and tungsten lit tableaux has an engaging aesthetic quality, that belies the violence and drama of the scene. This is powerful imagery, acting as a sort of ‘proxy’ for the real event, carrying with real angst and menance. I need to ponder further on Hunters intent, which at this stage and from reading some background internet cemenatrt on Hunter leaves me uncertain is this about art or about story telling or even fiction to carry news? Whatever, i am suddenly quite keen o the idea of the tableaux image and its possibilities.

I also did some further on line research into Cindy Sherman. I was more familiar with this work and knew that Sherman used a self portraiture technique, drawing on the troops of film noir cinema, society portraits and old master paintings. A core theme of her work is to use this self porters approach to offer a perspective of how the women are seen in american society. I think this approach is well documented and what interested me about this work in the context of this part of the course is the images themselves and not necessarily  their intended message. I was drawn to the image below in terms of how it was constructed and achieved.

© Cindy Sherman

Not one of the more complex Sherman images but a tableaux of interest to me none the less. I think I need to experiment with some self portraiture and before trying to make a wider comment , just the practicalities and technical challenges are what appeals to me at present.

Philip Lorca Dicorcia’s work also intrigues me. of all the photographers referenced in this section of the cours it is decorcioa with whom I am most familiar having had the opportunity to see both Hustlers and Heads in person. As large glossy prints these works are aesthetically beautiful and have a wonderful depth to them, looking almost three dimensional an defying the flatness of the framed print. Contrasting his work  with Hunter and Sherman, these works feel far more like portraiture in the classical sense. In the case of ‘Hustlers’ the male prostitutes he photographs, are  real people, with all the challenges their circumstances present, but he creates a tableaux environment to tell a wider story. I noted his wikipedia page talks about his almost ‘baroque’ constructions in his constructed images. In the image below the Juke Box control, burger and drink container all add to the mundanity and strange beauty of the scene. DiCorcia’s approach  iis giving me some ideas for assignment 5.

© Philip Lorca Dicorcia

So what does all this tell me?

The tableaux is a mechanism top communicate a wider idea about the subject of the image.

The tableaux image offers the possibility for creativity beyond the purely documentary work that I am more familiar with.

Fiction created for the camera can just be fiction for its own sake own sake, or it can be an allegory to metaphor for something bigger and something real.


Hattenstone, S (2011) Cindy Sherman- Me, Myself and I, The Guardian, founds at:

Tom Hunter: Living in hell and other stories found at: (Accessed May 2017)