In my FMP I am trying to express the ideas of loss, failure and emotional disequilibrium. One way of doing this is to introduce images of objects that are in some way contingent to the subject matter of my work. An example would be a notebook kept by my wife. She is not present and I am not present but there is something this notebook can say about what was.
Other practitioners have used this technique. Laia Abril used objects in A History of Misogyny – On Abortion , Edgar Martins used pieces of paper in Siloquies And Siloloquies, Life and other Interludes, Keith Arnatt used objects in Garden Objects and The Tears of Things (Objects from a rubbish tip) and Guy Martin in The Parallel State
What can be more innocuous than a coat hanger, a bath tap and a knitting needle? When used in the context of instruments used today to carry out abortions around the world they pack such a powerful punch. Laia’s work is remarkable as she takes the objects being used as a result of so much of the world’s position on abortion in moral and legal processes.
I saw this at the Sony Awards exhibition with a good friend at Somerset House in 2018. I had read about the work from a review earlier. I asked my friend what he thought of the images? He replied ‘they do nothing for me. Pieces of paper well photographed but so what. What is it saying?’ I told him they were suicide notes at which he physically recoiled and jumped back a step. He then walked forward and began to inspect the images in detail. Never could there be a better example of how objects can come to life within a particular context.
Jeremy Millar says the works in Pictures from a Rubbish Tip ‘acknowledge a closing-in of attention, a narrowing of focus. The shift in selection not only transforms the object but also the frame in which it is placed (and to borrow a phrase, Arnatt is always more interested in tracing round the frame than in that which it contains). Landscapes become still-lifes, yet still-lifes which are marked through and through by the landscape, like veins in a marble ashtray.’
Guy Martin in the The Parallel State uses objects to amplify the point he is making. The objects hold the attention of the viewer and get her to ask more questions about the work around the object images.
Objects can be incredibly powerful when context is added to them. They can lead in to a subject as with Laia Abril or be the subject with Keith Arnatt or emphasising punctuation as with Guy Martin. There are many objects contingent on my subject for my FMP. Look at them again and again to draw out their most powerful meaning.
Abril, Laia. 2020. A History of Misogyny – Chatper 1 – Abortion. [online] available at https://www.laiaabril.com/project/on-abortion/ (Accessed: July 27th, 2020).
Arnatt, Keith. 1991. Garden Objects. Keith Arnatt Estate [online] available at http://www.keitharnattestate.com/index.html (accessed: july 20th, 2020)
Arnatt, Keith. 1991. The Tears of things. [online] available at http://www.keitharnattestate.com/index.html (accessed: july 20th, 2020)
Martin, Guy. 2019. The Parallel State. [online] available at https://www.guy-martin.co.uk/parallel-state-overview (accessed: july 20th, 2020).
Millar, Jeremy. 1993. Keith Arnatt. Available in Frieze Magazine [online] available at https://frieze.com/article/keith-arnatt (accessed: july 20th, 2020).
Martins, Edgar. 2018. Siloquies and Soliloquies, On Death, Life and Other Interludes. [online] available at https://www.worldphoto.org/sony-world-photography-awards/winners-galleries/2018/professional/winners/still-life/1st-place (Accessed July 22nd, 2020).