“Belonging” explores the loss of social biome brought on by constant migration.
Exploring the iconic silos in a meditative, thoughtful manner brings a hands-on approach to this work. The silos and rice dryers have been beacons for migrant workers for decades. These massive concrete and steel structures emanate the promise of hope and belonging. They held grain and rice, but also provided work, shelter and food.
In the flat lands of Texas they can be seen for miles. Located next to the train tracks, migration to and from other parts of the US became within reach to many, resulting in a diverse population in the region.
Paper retains a memory when it is folded and working with this memory, these folds become a tactile version of my own memory of migration. Memory, hope and belonging. Considering the photograph as an object, these visuals are sought, dissected and reimagined leaving the things that I remember most about each building. This, in turn helps me to feel like I belong and can begin to develop a new social biome.
Photograph, print, fold, dissect. The ongoing disruption of the surfaces of these images is bringing about more sculptural objects. There is something so tactile about this series, I am thinking with my hands. This may lead to architectural explorations in the form of a maquette.
These YouTube videos are included here as inspiration. Although neither directly relate to my work, this shows that you can be inspired by many different people, from every type of creative process. This ground breaking design by Neil Dinari was inspired by the adidas product. Dinari even incorporated silos for growing food on the site. Proof that inspiration can come from anywhere.
Fontana’s distructive puncturing of the canvas was an act of liberation, he stated that he escaped from the prison of the flat surface when he makes these marks. This was radical at the time.
The horrific legacy of the holocaust, the Atom Bomb and the Cold War brought a generation of artists from Japan and Europe with a radical new approach to painting and performance.
‘There can be no poetry after Auschwitz’, the philosopher and composer Theodor Adorno.
Adorno suggested that there could be nothing artistic that could be produced at such a crushing time in history. In fact, it seems that especially those areas that were devastated by war a new creative process was emerging. A new generation of artists from Japan and Europe were exploring an approach to painting which was rooted in destruction as a creative process. Often unaware of each other as artists there was a break with ideological traditions. These distructive processes of ripping, burning, puncturing, disrupting and cutting would bring regeneration through healing. The acts of destruction allowing the artists to produce honest, personally reflective work.
The Nouveau Realists and the performative Gutai group were all making work which was identified by these distructive elements. Almost like a therapy the traditional was scraped away, allowing this new concept in artworks to flourish. This shift in attention speaks of the times, stress, and potential for a mental health crisis, and the need to work through those issues.
Artworks speak of the times in which they were made. Covid 19 cannot be compared to previous wars, humanitarian atrocities, or acts of violence. It has been a difficult time across the globe and perhaps we will see a shift in art as a result. Covid lockdown started in the second module of my MA, now in my last module I can see that over the last 18 months my work has started to evolve. Cutting, removing, folding, concealing are all being employed in final pieces.
Noémie Goudal is a French artist who investigates the possibilities and boundaries of her images. Reconstructing the layers and pushing the potential of those images through landscape installations. There are truths and fictions within her works and these challenge the viewer to inquire further. This work is amazing, so engaging both visually and conceptually. This questioning of the potential of an image is how I like to make work. At first glance this work looks like it could be digitally manipulated, however Goudal constructs, installs on location then photographs in analog. I hand build and work in digital. We both work at trying to engage the audience by using our hands to make visually engaging objects which are then rephotographed.
Great to catch up with German Bight peer to peer group yesterday. This workshare space is so valuable. A relaxed environment where we can share ideas, give feedback and help our fellow students. It’s good to catch up with available peers, not everyone is able to join so the company can change from week to week. In this time gap you can really see a step change in new work. Isabelle and Phil both brought new pieces this week, it was so exciting to see that development.
The two images above are before and after editing. At my last 1-1 meeting with Wendy I shared concerns for a white balance issue that I was having. Wendy talked me through some lighting set ups, and I shot all the folds agian. Being the owner of a new camera at this late stage in my course has added some workload.
I wanted to post this because I believe that it might be helpful to other students. Things don’t always turn out as you imagine them to. At this peer to peer I asked for help in selecting images and how to correct this background hue. Victoria stepped in, which was brilliant, she was so giving of her time and walked me through some ways to bring these images to a better place. I may not use this edited image, however it was good to learn a few new techniques.
Inspired by the work of Noemie Goudals’ constructed buildings. I wanted to experiment with the photographic hand made object in relation to the landscape in Texas. Silos are beacons of hope, they can be seen for miles due to the size of these structures. This is a new way of working, so these ideas are not refined at this point.
I am interested in the silos, but the landscapes in which they sit are also important. The surrounding countryside has had many inhabitants, it has a history of violence and natural disasters. By combining two local areas I can draw attention to these events. The Bastrop state park was devastated in 2011 by the worst wildfires Texas had ever seen. Two people were killed, and the local area was reduced to ash. It will take decades for the area to regenerate.
To establish what images are working I find that it helps to trial layouts. Although these images shown within a gallery would have much more space between them. This extra space will make the viewers visual reading a better experience. It is also helpful to print out potential final images, and stick them on a wall for a few weeks. That way you can quickly change the layout and groupings.
“Go out there and shoot everything. Then edit rigorously.” Richard Misrach.
This quote from Richard Misrach emphasizes the importance of the edit.
A simple exercise that shows me quite quickly that the second layout works better. Important to note that these images are not final pieces. They require editing, but at this stage I like to have an idea of what a final series could look like. It is at this time that I will identify any need for further images.
MISRACH, RICHARD. 2020. RICHARD MISRACH: The Photography Workshop Series. Place of publication not identified: APERTURE.
I was pretty unsophisticated when I took that job as far as how to pick a photographer. Let’s be very honest about it. In that job and elsewhere, I began to realize it was curiosity, it was a desire to know, it was the eye to see the significance around them. Very much what a journalist or a good artist is, is what I looked for. And above all else, …, a sincere, passionate love of people, and respect for people.
In 1935 President Roosevelt’s advisors set up the Farm Security Administration, aka the FSA. The advisors who were known as the brain trust, set up this agency to help rural farmers. The aim was that photographs and newspaper articles would aid the passing of the New Deal relief legislations way through congress. The photographs showed all Americans the plight of the needy farmers. The development of the photo collection and it’s distribution was the job of the historical department. The department director was Roy Emerson Stryker.
It was Strykers job to choose which photographers made the images and which images made the media at the time. Stryker states in his quote the qualities that he was looking for above all were “a sincere, passionate love of people, and a respect for people.”
The images that were rejected were identified by the Stryker hole punch, rendering the image or negative redundant. The image below documents migratory labour in Florida, one of Strykers rejected images.
Stryker was a humanitarian and he worked diligently for the farming community. Our shared interests in migratory labour and their challenges are clear. He brought images to the American people giving them a very visual understanding of the difficulties that the farmers were experiencing. Stryker was also responsible for archiving over 170000 images and negatives in the Library of Congress.
Last week I met with two German Bight cohort peers for a group critique. Victoria and Clare joined met up on a zoom call. It was a great way to catch up on all the new work being made, and a great way to share outcome ideas. To have this casual space is very important, especially during the last few months of final major project. We talked through all our new work, ideas for going forward, and final outcome ideas. I really appreciated my peers feedback, the time that they spent looking at my work and their ideas and suggestions.
This weekend I visited the silos closest to my home. I was really disturbed to see the fence area wrapped in builders tarpaulin. The tarpaulin is mandatory in any Houston building project. This is usually an indicator that there is a demolition, or building work looming. It made me really angry, these buildings are iconic beacons that can be seen for miles. I made rapid images in a panic, certain that they would be begin the distruction and demolition after the weekend.
Since the start of my BA in Perth Australia, and continuing in my MFA at Falmouth UK. I have been concerned with local architecture, and how it can dramically change the landscape. Perth, Australia bushland replaced by concrete slab sided buildings to the 50’s era homes, replaced by Mc Mansions, here in my neighbourhood in Houston. Everywhere new builds that block the sunlight during the day, and are illuminated by night in a show of prosperity. The people who build these structures in the shadows of undocumented status, food and healthcare insecurity along with fear of deportation.
After some intense research I discovered that the silos had been bought by an evangelical pastor who wants to create a global mega church, live streaming services world wide. The renovation costs will be in the region of $20 million dollars. Please do watch The Hope City Silos youtube below. Remaining divided on how I feel about this renovation, pleased that they will be saved, but unsure about the cost of purchase and development of the area.