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)

Research Point – Gregory Crewdson

Look up the work of Gregory Crewdson online.

Watch this YouTube video about Gregory Crewdson and his work and consider the questions below. [accessed 24/02/14]

  • Do you think there is more to this work than aesthetic beauty?
  • Do you think Crewdson succeeds in making his work ‘psychological’? What does this mean?
  • What is your main goal when making pictures? Do you think there’s anything wrong with making beauty your main goal? Why or why not?


I hade seen some o the work of Crewdson prior to this part of the course and had been struck by both the cinematic quality  and the sheer scale of the work. As part of the of the ‘Perdidos en la Ciudad’ exhibition I visited at the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern in Spain, there were 4 of Crewdson images filling a massive gallery space. I have to say the images in the flesh are utterly mesmerising, the detail is almost indescribable at close quarters. The use of well known hollywood actors as subject in the images adds to the epic cinematic qulkaity of the work. in a digital age the power of his 10×8 view camera negatives printed on a grand scale are utterly beautiful, in spite of their often sensitiser narrative. It is in this context and with a little familiarity that I respond to the questions in this research point.

Do you think there is more to this work than aesthetic beauty?

Certainly but i need to explain why. The images are without doubt aesthetically engaging, the use of colour, the High Definition detail of the work couples with the use of lighting. As the OCA reference video: ‘Gregory Crewdson’s Photography Capturing a Movie Frame‘ highlights, Crewdson pays great attention to the lighting using what appear to be the same techniques that a movie director wold employ. All of that said the placement of characters and objects in the frame couples with the location and the lighting challenge the view to ask questions about what is going on. i will use the image below to illustrate what I mean.

Copyright Gregory Crewdson

The seemingly simple scene of a residential district in the snow reveals something  about place and time and season, but the lone and small figure standing in the doorway of the building raises questions? The future could initially be overlooked, but like so many of Crewdson’s images the people in them add a tension to the scene. This particle image also has the title “Beneath the roses again asking questions of the view and almost holding the vower in intrigue. There is something eerie in his images in part created by the time taken, often in the strange light of twilight, which again adds to the intrigue. The images also have the look of ‘photo realistic painting and some of the smaller works i have seen by Crewdson demand close inspection to see that they are actually photographs. This all adds to the sense that there is far more to this work than the aesthetic.

Do you think Crewdson succeeds in making his work ‘psychological’? What does this mean?

Crewdsons work has an almost fairy tail, other worldly quality even though he is using a clearly urban landscape at twilight. I was interested in the reference in ‘Gregory Crewdson’s Photography Capturing a Movie Frame’ video to Crewdson’s father being a Psycho Analyst and the artist as a child hearing, without really being able to define what was being said as  his father worked with patients in a room below him in his childhood home. There is perhaps an ‘unconscious’ world being p in the portrayed in the twilight realm that Crewdson is creating in his work. This sense of the ‘psychological is to my eye further enhanced by the expressions on the faces of some of the subjects in the images as well as the nature of the ‘tableau’ he creates. The image below I feel illustrates this:

Copyright Gregory Crewdson

The image, called ‘Daughter is quite disturbing, the look on the face of the mother and the posture of the half clothed figure creates a troubling but simultaneously  intriguing tableau that is certainly not a normal family scene. Stephen Berg (2015) suggests that Crewdson’s work uses a ‘supernatural ‘quality to portray american life, drawing upon the work of Gary Winnogrand and Walker Evans , but offering a very personal take. The work is edgy and disturbing and for me the heart of the psychological feel that the work creates is the tension between the aesthetic beauty inherent in his work contrasts with the disturbing themes he is revealing. There is also a tension between the sense of the ‘credible’ that the aesthetic nature of his images offer , contrasted with the troubling themes within the work. this drama adds to the sense of the psychological in the work. There are lots of references on line to the influence of Hopper on Crewdson, Hopper too offers a sense of the psychological in his work, perhaps the solitude evident in some of his work. Crewdson work has encouraged me to visit the work of hopper too.

What is your main goal when making pictures? Do you think there’s anything wrong with making beauty your main goal? Why or why not?

These are tough questions to answer, not least because it would be hard to compete with the beauty of Crewdson’s images whatever my motive for image making! That said I do strive in my own developing practice to produce something that is aesthetically pleasing even if the motive is wider or there is a more specific intent in the work. Why? Well I believe that engaging viewer can be assisted by a visually aesthetic image. The surrealist to an extent used beauty and intrigue to engage the viewer and Crewdson uses a cinematic approach to engage the ver with what i think is a much greater message, one of the things that sit bowl the surface where all might not be what it seems at first glance. I am reminded of David lynch’s work such as Blue Velvet, where the picturesque picket fence  draws us in but later reveals the immensely sinister. Beauty has a way of engaging! i think i need to reflect on this more though as i move to make assignment 5.


Berg, S (2015) quoted in Koetzle (2015)

Koetzle, H-M (2015) A-Z, Taschen, Koln

Gregory Crewdson II:

Perdidos en la ciudad. La vida urbana en las colecciones delIVAM:


The camera as a hiding place

I have been reflecting further on assignment 3 and the notes provided with the assignment that made reference to there being few images of me in my substantial archive of images. As the photographer I am often behind the camera. This stands out in our family photographs, but it is more than this?

As an experiment I thought I would dig out from files all the images I have used as avatars on social media, networking and forum groups over the past few years to see what they say about me.

The findings were interesting and confirmed my view that I like to hide in plain site and the camera is my cloak of invisibilty!


Research Point-Diane Arbus in Singular Images: Essays on Remarkable Photographs by Sophie Howarth

A young  Brooklyn family going for a Sunday outing, N.Y.C. 1966

An essay by Liz Jobey: A critical and personal review


copyright Diane Arbus Estate

Read and reflect upon the chapter on Diane Arbus in Singular Images: Essays on Remarkable Photographs by Sophie Howarth (2005, London: Tate Publishing). This is out of print but you may be able to find it in your local university library: some of the chapters are available as pdfs online. You’ll find the Arbus chapter on the student website. 

Jobey’s essay offers a detailed and insightful analysis around a single image.  I cant’t help feeling the authors offers a significant caveat about how we interpret what she has written and also how we draw meaning from any image.  One of the opening comments is:

“The fictions we make about photographs are as unreliable as they are undeniable.”

Having read the essay several times this opening statement stood out more and more each time I visited the work. What  I have taken this to mean is that we need to be cautious in what we read into an image and it is ultimately a subjective viewpoint. There is a supreme irony in Jobey’s words in this statement in that she goes on to reveal  very concrete and credible set of insights into the family in the image, their lives, the cultural and temporal context of the image and to me, most of all, an insight into Arbus and her career in a single image. This essays offers a blueprint for the power that an individual work by an artist can reveal . The essay also demonstrates a very  eloquent and robust response to the challenge set  to Beaumont Newell by his friend and photographer Van Deren Coke  to speak for an hour about a single image. This challenge is the premise for Howarth’s(2005) book from which this particular essay is drawn.

To focus on the essay itself and the task set out in the C&N materials, Jobey uses the opening paragraphs of the essay to locate the family in the image in a  wider american trope of ordinary people whose lives may not have turned out as they expected. The reference to Raymond Carver (1938 –1988), the novelist and poet who exemplified ‘Dirty Realism’ further anchors the image and how it might be read in a genre that emphasises the disappointments, broken dreams and hard realities of the characters in this type of work. This early use of intertextuality weaves the potential connotations of the image into a bigger american story about unfulfilled expectations, dissatisfaction, disaffection and the challenges faced by the ordinary in their daily lives. Like  number of artists, Ginsburg,  and Karouac to name two, in the post war period, there is a challenge to a prevailing orthodoxy pedalled by a consumerist media that suggests the american dream is a reality for all.

A similar reference to ‘blue collar’ and Bruce Springsteen songs also makes a cultural link to the anthems of ‘Heartland Rock, a musical genre that concerns itself with the plight and their oppression by the ‘system’

Before describing the image and what it denotes in any detail beyond it being a Brooklyn family about to go out on a Sunday outing, Jobey boldly asserts in a style that might be deemed patronising to the subject and the readers, that :

“We pity them partly with hindsight for their compliance”

I have to question the use of ‘we’ and also ask the question is the compliancy to the request of the photographer or more about their position in late 1960’s american society?

It is only after this statement that we get the authors description of what is in the image. Joey forensically looks at each element of the image describing the four Characters and also making a range of assumption about them.

This too is interesting in that denotation and connotation are interwoven in the text as its set out what we literally see and what Jobey believes it connotes. We are also seeing this through a lens that has already told us in the opening paragraphs that this family have problems. The shy, but direct gaze of the father at the photographer, the only character in the scene how looks directly at Arbus and by default at us as the viewers is described  as being ‘tentative’. His presence in the image is contrasted with that of his wife, whose clothes, poise and ‘armoury of self protection’, the coat, bag.

We gain some further contextual and artistic insight through the reference to correspondence between Arbus and Peter Crookston the then deputy editor of the Sunday Time Magazine ( at one time a significant platform for photographers work)

 Jobey quotes Arbus describing the couples relationship :

“they were undeniable close in a painful sort of way'”

Jobey then ponders on whether the use of the term undeniably is patronising in that it might be interpreted as being judgemental. Through research into Arbus’s writing we then gain a much greater insight, through Arbus’s recollection of the couple into their lives and we gain a glimpse, all be it obliquely into the dialogue that must have take place between photographer and subject. This struck a real note of interest with me because I have in my own work in photographing strangers on the street tried to create sets of questions that try an balance insight through dialogue without appearing to pry. That might be a whole other blog post though. 

Jobey then locates this image and its publication in the Sunday Times Magazine in 1968 in real;ion to Arbus’s rise to notoriety following the inclusion of 35 of her images in an important exhibition at MoMA curated by John Szarkowski, then the Head of the Photography department t the “Modern’. Displayed along side the work of Freidlander and Winnogrand, this exhibition  was to showcase street photography in a new way. 

Gefter (2017) quoting Szarkowski says:

““New Documents” … a showcase for a new kind of photograph, from a generation of artists who had embraced an almost existential attitude toward the medium, adopting “the documentary approach toward more personal ends.”

Joey goes on to describe the different approach to documentary photography in Arbus’s work and her win need to reveal thins that in plain site are often missed by others. Quoting Arbus :

” really believe there are things that nobody would see if i didn’t photograph them”

We get a tangible sense that Arbus was doing far more than just documenting the world around her and her photographs have a very different intent to the previous work of documentary photographers many of whom might be described as having an altruistic intent. 

There are many references in the essay to ‘Freak’ one of Arbus’s main project and one which showcased in “New Documents’ Her engagement and subsequent recording of propel on the margins of American society because of their differences is also related to Arbus’s own inner struggles, struggles that ultimately led to her suicide in 1971. Born into a rich family Arbus had been protected from much that the majority had to face in terms of concerns about money, the future and trials the majority take for granted as part of life. There is a suggestion in the essay that argus’s engagement with people on the margins was an attempt to gain a greater insight in the the world she had been protected from. Although not apparent in the text i can’t help thinking that the patronising tone that i observe in some of Arbus’s statement is a function of her ‘elite’ background , although this perhaps reveals something of my prejudices about that rich? Interesting Sontag, quoted by Jobey suggested that Arbus work lacked compassion, a challenging statement given i think Arbus was may be trying to discover compassion through her work.

There is no doubt that Jobey achieves an immense amount in this essay, taking a single image,  Arbus has used to challenge or venue subvert the classic tropes of the family photograph, the map much about Arbus, her life and the impact of her work. I have learned much more about Arbus through this one image and I can’t help but feel far more daunted now about Assignment 4 and what is expected of me!


Evers, S. (2008) Raymond Carver: The King of Dirty Realists, The Guardian-2008 found at  (Accessed March 2017)

Gefter, P. (2017) The Exhibit that Transformed Photography, The New Yorker March 2017, found at: (Accessed March 2017)

Howarth, S. (Ed.) (2005) Singular Images-Essysa on Remarkable Photographs, Tate Publishing, London

King, S. (2009) Raymond Carver’s Life and stories, New York Times found at: (Accessed March 2017)

Sparknotes (2017) ‘Dirty Realism’ defined found at: (Accessed March 2017)

75 Reasons to Live: Jeffrey Fraenkel on Diane Arbus’s A Young Brooklyn Family Going for a Sunday Outing, N.Y.C. found at: Accesed March 2017)


Pierre Beteille- Reflecting on assignment 3 feedback

© Pierre Beteille

Pierre betteille is a french photographer who produces whimsical but also thought provoking images. Although he studied fine art, he is a self taught photographer, his work has been used in advertising campaigns and his distinctive high dynamic range images , some of which involve significant post processing ( in photoshop I assume), are strangely engaging.

My tutor suggested I looked this work in the feedback to assignment three. There was a logic to this suggestion when I started to look through Beteille images, some of which were him holding books, the approach I had taken in the assignment. The significant difference being that i used the books to hide in plain site i my work where Beteille uses the book as a prop. Below is a contrast between my approach and his.

© Pierre Beteille

In this image the arts holds a copy of Camus 1947 novel ‘La Peste’ about a plague sweeping through the French Algerian city of Oran. Beteille’s facial expression and his use of rubber gloves to hold the novel, presumably to avoid catching something from it tell the view something about its content withouts necessarily being familiar with this work. Bettie encode a lot of information about the book is a single image, whilst whimsical at first glance there is far more to this image than first meets the eye.

In the image above, one of a set from assignment three I use the biook as a mask, it is the only one of the images that relates to my professional role, the other images represent my interests  and passions. I can see that the comments made by my tutor about how the images would be read by other left a lot unresolved. Yo need certain information that I haven’t provided in order to decode the image. It does make me think whether I needed to use captions. that said the Beteille images need no captions.

© Pierre Beteille

Reflecting oin Beteille, my own work and the feedback from assignment three, i think i need to look at how i can use more creative visual elements, perhaps the use of humour as a vehicle to tell a wider story. the next assignment is an essay so this will need to wait until assignment 5.

That said the Beteille images have made me thing about image content and that is before I even think about image qualities. it is worth noting that there is a real HDR quality  , almost hyper real to al the Beteille images I found. I am not sure how I feel about this. i am not really a fan of this style of picture, there is something of the unnatural about them, however i think i should do some experiment with this approach to see the impact it has on the making of meaning, which seems to be the Holy Grail I am seeking!!!


www. (Accessed March 2017)

Image and Text-Research Point

Examples of relay in contemporary photographic practice include Sophie Calle’s Take Care of Yourself and Sophy Rickett’s Objects in the Field (see interview in the Appendix to this course guide) where clashes of understanding or interpretation work together to create a perhaps incomplete but nonetheless enriching dialogue between artist and viewer.

Look these pieces up online. Investigate the rationale behind the pieces and see if you can find any critical responses to them. Write down your own responses in your learning log.

  • How do these two pieces of work reflect postmodern approaches to narrative?
  • Another way to incorporate text into an image-based project is to include interviews or audio.

I have in truth slowed up a little on the course recently, in part due to work pressures but also as I try to make sense of part two. This section of the course has taken me into new areas to consider and I want to get a better grasp of the whole are of the postmodern narrative.

Looking at  and reflecting on Sophie Calle’s work ‘take care of yourself’ shed some helpful light on the subject but also raised for me many questions. Being dumped by e-mail can not be a nice experience although Calle has turned this into an engaging and thought provoking piece of art. I looked at the individual components of the work as well as some images of the work as it was exhibited at the Paul Cooper gallery in New York. It was seeing the work set out on a wall that gave me some insight into this different way of working. Sending the e-mail letter to 107 women from very different walks of life and then photographing them reading it was a novel way to explore the themes the letter raises. In the photographs of the work on the walls of a gallery I had a real sense of the notion of ‘relay’ work is assembled into what at a  distance looked like the maquette for a book, but its order is unclear. The viewer is left to piece together the collections  of images and words. Central to the work, from my point of view, is the letter, blown up and highlighted in fluorescent pen, annotated along side the highlighting.


Copyright Sophie Calle

A sort of  guided deconstruction of the artists boyfriend’s ‘Dear John’ letter. I think there is a clear sense of the absence and presence of the author simultaneously. The real point though is that the viewer must make sense of the work and although the core theme is somewhat fixed, how a narrative is assembled is left to the viewer. Factor in the viewers own biography and I suspect there will be very differing messages and interpretations  drawn from the work.

Sophie Rickett’s work ‘Objects in the Field’ was very different to Calle’s work but equally engaging. Not least because i was familiar with the work of the Cambridge astronomer whose work was at the centre of Rickett’s project. Roderick Wiilsrtop was both a research astronomer and an optical engineer, perhaps part of the last group of astronomer engineers. Silstrop had previously designed and built multiple mirrored reflecting telescopes in order to achieve his scientific research goals. Ricketts uses many of his images, created on film ( a process now replaced in astronomy with CCDs) to create a different and i think diverging narrative. Willstrop work had a scientific and empirical dimension, but Rickett’s uses this almost biographically making reference to her own experience of going to the optician as a child. The final work again create a sense of relay with a mix of text, images and audio all adding up to a non linear narrative from which the view can make a wide range of interpretations.


Copyright Sophie Rickett’s

So how do these two pieces of work reflect postmodern approaches to narrative?

Well they certainly do not possess a linear narrative, indeed in the case of Calle she creates to potential for multiple personal narratives. Text an image are juxtaposed to create some thing fundamentally different. Butler (2002) says of the post modern narrative that there is

“a disruption of any temptation to settle for a familiar world”

This is very true of callers work and although more subtle true of Ricketts work. traditional linear story telling is not present, indeed the notion of the story is somewhat illusive. The viewer decides upon an interruption of the work.

I remain uncertain about this whole area of work but i have begun to make sense of the themes both of these artists explore. i also have a very clear view of barthes concept of relay which is particularly present i think in callers ork. i will need to return to this again to create a deeper personal understanding!


Butler, C. (2002) Postmodernism-A Very Short Introduction, OUP, Oxford

Chrisafis, A. (2007) He loves me not, The Guardian- found at: ( Accessed July 2016)

Knorr, K.

Rickett, S. (2014) Objects in the Field, The Photographers Gallery- Found at: s:// ( Accessed July2016)

Heimr- Matthew Broadhead- BJP August 2016


Copyright Matthew Broadhead

Matthew Broadhead’s strangely compelling work ‘Heimr’ uses a mix of landscape images explore the intersection between place, ideas, objects, history and philosophy. Travelling to sites in Iceland used by NASA and identified buy the US geological survey in the 1960’s to assist space scientist understand alien worlds.  His work explores the concept of space from a number of perspectives. He appears to be linking a interests in geology, philosophy and belief systems. The title Heimr, comes from an old nordic word for ‘world’.

Broadhead is a recent graduate from the University of Brighton and this project is developed into a photobook. I came across the work in the most recent edition of the British Journal of Photography and see it as part of my survey of landscape photography. I think these images ask the view to think about the remote, about other worlds but also about the world around us. It is hard to put a definitive description of the  work but I am intrigued by it and will return to again after some further reflection


Broadhead, M. (2016) British Journal of Photography (pp25), Issue 7850, August 2016

Artists website found at: ( Accessed July2016)