Monday's crit session was a good one I feel, again with interesting work being created from amongst the cohort. For my own presentation, the images were posted the other day (here) and the text below is what I'd prepared to guide what I wanted to say. I will have deviated from this in places, but as I said, it was guidance.Le loup, le renard et la belette
- It’s a working title, carrying on my habit of naming projects after songs - Le loup… is from La jument de Michao (Michao’s mare - the wolf, the fox and the weasel), a traditional Breton song that’s been recorded by a number of French recording artists/groups in different styles... (Tri Yann, Nolwenn Leroy, Manau....).
- The project looks towards Penn-ar-Bed (Finistère) in Brittany. I have a house there, so in a way it’s personal but I’m trying not to be introspective.
- I started out just photographing… Now there are a number of themes that I’m hoping to weave together into an extended body of work.
- Beyond the region itself, I guess the first theme is that in the photographs, there will be frequent signs of people, but no people themselves.
- This is because French law states that each individual has the exclusive right to their image and of who uses their image.
- Not only publishing the image, but even taking a photo containing someone, the photographer has to have their permission.
- This then gives another theme, which is that the emptiness this creates is also representative of the fact that Brittany is emptying - the region is largely rural offers few real employment prospects.
- Isolation, charm, otherness, toughness/resilience, a step away from modernity, nostalgia are all things I’ll also be hoping to capture. There is a resistance to the stereotypical French “chic”, it’s less ostentatious (unless we’re comparing tractors).
- The area also has various legends, there are druids and it’s one of the places that King Arthur is said to have come from. The forest near Huelgoat features a Merlin’s Cave and Arthur’s Camp…
- Another theme might be the conflict that bubbles under the surface in Brittany. It’s long been “different” to the rest of France, subjected to different taxes and the like. There are the bonnets rouges and their tax protests, protests against the airport, lack of subsidies and Brittany not being Breton…
- All the photographs are titled with the Breton names of where they were taken. Whilst I don’t think that Breton is officially recognised as a national language, they do allow it to be taught in schools, and they’re fiercely defensive of it. Some posters and the like are only in Breton…
The comments from the chatbox during and after the presentation were - I've added some post crib notes in italics:Susan Miller
Western Brittany is more like Cornwall than France. The Bretton language has a commonality with Welsh(Part of Finistère is actually called "Cornouaille")Tanya A
how big is the geographical area you are working with?(I guessed at about 150 sq miles)Monika Brueckner
I don´t miss poeple the emptiness tells a lotSusan Miller
the colours in 2 and 6 work really well(An Uhelgoad and Kenec'h David)Caroline Wright
In a place where the people seem to hold sway with things such as the taxes, it is interesting that they are absent in the imagesMonika Brueckner
but I would sort them in series(I'll decide on this when the collection is finished and I know how I'll be presenting them - it will depend on juxtapositions, etc.)Alison South
When I first looked at the images I thought they were constructed - there is something really detached about them - very intruigingMáire Keogh
I love 5 & 6 - different from the other road,buidings etc. I dont think you need people?(Ode Tredudon and Kenec'h David)Emma Delpech
I agree Alison....Caroline Wright
5 and 6 present a very different experience, a subset?(I’m not actually sure if these belong...)Susan Miller
the eeriness of 2 5 6 is quite hauntingEmma Delpech
I'll find the link...(Emma had mentioned a photographer who shot at night with long exposures to make things look like daytime)Máire Keogh
well maybe 5 & 6 important in portraying lack of people living in Brittany 80% of time? I found Brittany so different from other place in FranceAlison South
In some of them the absence of the people is heavier - like there is a narative thereMonika Brueckner
I agreeMáire Keogh
where in brittany Rob(It’s Finistère - near Huelgoat/An Uhelgoad)Monika Brueckner
on your homepage there is one in a garden with a blue box - great
it´s irritating(I see these like punctuation - the "detail" photographs)Emma Delpech
sorry - he's not the one I meantMáire Keogh
do you print all /select your images
just wondering because really like no 5!!!(When curating the finished sequence, I'll print out many 3x2s and work with those. I am planning to start printing more of my work out though)Caroline Wright
Tell me about image no 7, the car...(The burnt out car is a result of some protests I believe, I came across it early on a Sunday morning in Carhaix [Karaez] - not sure what the protests were about exactly, but it's probably not a coincidence that it was a British car... I like this image, but not on my wall!)Tanya A
photojournalism vs art?
reminds me of wales… burning down the weekend houses of the english...Caroline Wright
It is bizarre that the burn line is pretty much right down the middle, but it is also the open door that catches my eye(we originally thought that, from across the car park, it was painted half and half, but no...)
is one of your themes the brits or the french or are they the same?(I'd not really considered this, they're both missing yet both there - I don't think I'm differentiating)Caroline Wright
but they are in the images indirectly through the clues you presentEmma Delpech
no people.....evidence they WERE there. Scary
So there we have it. On the whole, in response to the questions I posted, the weaving of different narratives seems to work (albeit in a very small subset as posted), although some sorting may prove useful. I'll see when I have something more substantial to sort through... The lack of people doesn't seem to bother those in the cohort who were in attendance, so that's good... And the photography seemed to get some positive response too.