13/04/16 06:42 Filed in: Professional Development
For the moment at least, the radio interview with my wife played on RMN FM is available as a sound bite on their website http://www.rmnfm.com/index.php?page=coupdefil
Monday 4th April was an incredibly hectic day, hitting the first mairie in Kergloff at 9:00, before our point of contact walked in with her dog (only a minute or so before). After a quick refresh about the raisin d'etre for the exhibition, the photograph was selected and on the information board just outside the mairie's offices, and a photograph taken of the two of us stood in front of it. A good and easy start.
The next mairies offices didn't have the keys to hand, so it was to go up later in the week. The third is still in the middle of a renovation and hasn't actually got an information board erected at the moment (it will be this month though). Things were beginning to dip a little...
Carhaix took delivery of their photograph and promised to have it up the following day, then asked whether we had been in touch with their communications team. We didn't know they had one as they hadn't mentioned it before, so the short answer was "no". A quick introduction was made and a promise to send some information later when we had a wifi connection was greeted with a pledge to see what they could do...
Almost lunch time already and one more squeezed in (to my local Plouyé office). Again, no keys to hand but a promise that the secretariat would pose for a photo with me later in the week (Marcel the maire wasn't feeling photogenic).
After lunch and a frenzied distribution of information, Poullaouen's maire wasn't in, so a return trip scheduled the following day. A couple more visited, and Loqueffret and Brasparts both put their photographs up, although no representatives were available and photo shoots rescheduled. I also took the opportunity to drop a poster under the door of the Brasparts Tourist Information office (which was closed on Mondays).
All in all, 11 mairies offices were visited (over 100 miles travelled in total, back and forth), with 10 photographs deposited and three put up straight away, and one photograph with a representative taken. A hard day, and not quite as immediate as I had hoped, but it was a good start...
Tuesday was filled with appointments and actions - people to call, people to visit and things to arrange. A visit to one of the mairies saw the photo installed but without the little card, this was sorted and a photograph taken with the maire... A bit of running around and Carhaix's image was installed on a smaller information board around the back of the building because it could be alone and not half hidden by other notices and such. Perhaps a nice thought on their behalf, but I actually like the way the photograph interacts with other posters, etc. One of the local newspapers met up for a photo shoot for the next day's paper (Le Poher), and posters were dropped into various locations.
The final visit for the day was with the maire of Poullaouen - earlier in the day he'd been rescuing an abandoned pig, and now he was posing for a photograph in front of my photograph he'd just selected and attached to the notice board next to the front door of his building. Such is the life of the mairies of rural Brittany...
So, many miles covered, most of the photographs installed and some media coverage achieved. Now let's see if anything comes back.
Well, as I write this it's early Friday evening (or late afternoon if you prefer), the log fire is burning (it's a little too chill here in Brittany for it not to be) and I've still not finished getting around the various sites again to document the images presence.
As I mentioned the other day, all the images are out there with the mairies, but I will be photographing the last two in situ tomorrow. My wife had the idea of taking a photograph with a representative of all the mairies offices in front of the photograph, and most have accepted for this to take place. Today it was the turn of Brasparts (up on the day we delivered it, but no representative available), Huelgoat and Motreff. Even though both had received the photograph on Monday, these latter two put them up today just before the documentation photograph with their representative - would it have happened at all if we hadn't insisted on such a record being made? Possibly, but I do wonder...
Tomorrow is the turn of my local Plouyé and Pleyber-Christ, one wasn't up yesterday, the other we've been assured is up in the mediatheque. Only Carhaix has declined to have such a photograph taken, not sure why. Certainly the maire has today announced his candidature for the next presidential elections (2017), the news of which is jeopardising my chance of making an appearance in the newspaper Ouest-France (they have more newsworthy things to consider now). Still, I made it into 2 of them, and I have posters scattered across the region, even one on the door of the Huelgoat notaire's office and the Carhaix cultural centre. If the exhibition doesn't reach its audience, it's not for the lack of trying!
(Poster in the window of Ouest-France - right of door, top right of group of 4)
(Poster in the window of Le Poher - third from right)
(photoshoot with a top model and a photographer from Le Poher)
(top model in front of photograph in Carhaix - from Le Poher)
Having said that, it is reaching "an" audience. Figures for the website (visitors and page views) have gone up, and there are spikes that correspond to announcements being made (newsletter, newspaper articles, etc.), and whilst the viewing figures aren't gargantuan, they're pleasing, with over 2150 views so far since I set it up (first spike being a request for feedback), and several hundred this week...
Viewing Figures (from Weebly dashboard)
I guess many of these will be people I know, but I'm hoping that it will reach others - appearing in the newspaper, posters in various areas, mentions in community newsletters... Yes, I'm hoping the audience will be expanded. I've not received any feedback yet though - I guess some people might be worried about being the first? Much like life here in Finistère, it can be a long hard slog rather than a sprint, so I will have to play a waiting game I guess.
Lunch time, the second day of the LeLoupExpo set up, with most of the photographs dispersed and some chasing up done, I'm sitting (with my wife) in a little creperie in Carhaix. After lunch, it's off to the local newspaper offices opposite the mairie in Carhaix for a photoshoot to go with the article they're running in the Wednesday edition. Now though, having placed our crepe order, there's a mind dumping session - lessons learned so far, what seems to have gone well, what hasn't, etc.
So here it is, elaborated a little from that scrawled onto a sheet of paper in a creperie - it will form a basis for what goes into the reflective report on the experience.
Plan for change. Also, people don't always deliver on the first opportunity. There's a need, in some instances, to push a bit more... A day seemed to be ample in my own mind for distributing images, and it pretty much has been, but I also expected to have the images up on the board, the photograph of it in situ taken, together with a snap of the maire (or whoever). This certainly isn't the case, with only three photographs up on the first day, and only one photograph of someone from the Mairie taken. I'd also hoped to visit the tourist information offices, but this hadn't happened at the time of eating our lunch either.
Explain. It's necessary to re-explain things even though it was explained in the submission e-mails and over the phone. Doing so seems to get the message across. More clarity is required for some things though. Some people thought it was a painting exhibition (awkward silence) of animals (awkward silence - le loup, le renard et la belette is the wolf, the fox and the weasel). Not that paintings of animals was ever suggested in the sample image I sent physically, via e-mail or can be seen anywhere on the weekly site...
Recognition. I've made sure that I've tried to recognise the various mairies as collaborators, I've made sure they know I'm grateful, but also included the names of the villages in all communications with the press and the radio, etc. I've tried to get a photograph with someone from the mairie's office (not all have been happy about this), so that I might include them in a further development. If I was having an after show party, they'd all get an invite, so it will have to wait for that development to (hopefully) materialise.
On the subject of recognition, another facet of this is using a more personal touch. Some mairies asked if we were going to drop the photographs in the post , but we decided to visit them in person. We've treated the peopled we've dealt with as people, not just as being "the Mairie" or "the press". Some have even gotten around to calling us now, rather than waiting to be chased (not all though...)
The A3 posters I had printed have been well received (even if there is an auto-correct spelling mistake in there - lesson learned is check and check again, especially the French!!) They were less than a couple of pounds each from Staples, less than it would have cost to print them on my inkjet with ink the price of liquid gold... Well worth it, and worth doing it again for future. (Posters left with the mairies, tourist information offices, the local press, etc.) In hindsight though, a little more information on there might have been useful.
Photographs selected.. Always a tricky one. My vision is perhaps a little bleaker than some of the mairies might want to show, so in allowing the mairies to choose which image they displayed from a small selection printed it was the more colourful, dramatic or "pretty" that were snapped up first. My personal favourites are generally unchosen. Go figure. This would then lead to some hard curatorial choices - should I have chosen the more picturesque and cater for the audience more, or stick with my own vision, my own preferences? Sell out, or sell nothing? (Not that anything is for sale this time). Allowing the maire (or secretariat, adjoint culturel, etc) to choose certainly seems to have been a positive in terms of making them feel included - a form of psychological empowerment I guess.
To get the viewers (and for them to participate) I need to get the news out there. Time will tell if I've managed to do this with the use of (limited French) social media, the radio (my wife's interview on RMN FM) and the newspapers (Le Poher and Le Courrier already to press, with Le Telegramme and Ouest-France yet to commit). There's the posters too... I've even started using Facebook, but I've not yet got a great reach. The weebly exhibition site has been getting more viewers than my own website though, although there has been a sudden spike today (50-odd viewers compared to single figures seen normally). Sitting in the creperie I'm surrounded by posters and flyers from other exhibitions, I should've targeted some of these too...
The card. I chose early on to present a photograph at A4 size, together with an A5 information card. Some mairies expressed a desire for a larger photograph, but not all could accommodate this, so I opted to keep them the same (no favouritism!) The card was intended to have a bit of an artists statement on it, together with an URL for the weebly site, but as things evolved, and Facebook strongly advised for online regional interaction (by Aude from RMN FM), there was then 3 URLs, and therefore less room on an A5 card, so it really became a signpost pointing to the website. More information would've been good at the "point of sale" to get people to visit. It might still come to pass - we'll see...
Whilst on the subject of the card, one of the mairies (so far) neglected to pin it to their board. This has been rectified, but it raised the question of whether it might have been better to print differently and include the information from the card on the same sheet. This is not something I would normally consider, but it's a case of adapting to the environment. With the card separate, there is nothing other than proximity to tie the two together. Will the audience understand?
One things that has only really occurred to me now I've seen things installed is how the context I envisaged changes with the surroundings, both in terms of being in the open in village centres or even almost rural surroundings, and what else is on the board. A fellow photographer friend (Dewald, one of the photographers shooting with me and Tanya for [( 6 )] Oxford) also noticed this, commenting on Twitter. Seeing things in a gallery context gives a certain expectation - it's in a gallery therefore it si art. Here it's on a community information boardtherefore is it something for the community? In a way, it is, and I've been pushing for community collaboration by offering to include their images on the website...
Also, and a really important point - the research is never over! Well, not until the project is finally put to bed, and even then... There's the research in terms of the project itself (e.g. Local history, additional communities - I'm still shooting, and whatnot) and in terms of getting it out there. Whilst in the Carhaix office I was asked if we'd been in touch with their communications department, which we didn't know existed. We also found out whilst talking to people that there are several of the mairies that do community newsletters - further details have been sent for inclusion in these.
It's also been HARD. Not being on site has brought its own difficulties that should be obvious. There's also the language barrier - my wife has been utterly awesome as there is no way I could have navigated all the things that have happened without her. I can get by, but it's more of a "not getting hungry" getting by than an "organising an exhibition" getting by. So hats off to her, I acknowledge I would've bitten off far more than I could chew without her...
That's it, the crepe (trois fromage, a local speciality I gather) has arrived and the pen and paper put away. It was time to chew on something else.
Two days before setting off to France to put the TYB exhibition up, I’ve had a last minute phone call from the mairie’s office in Pleyber-Christ - they will be able to participate after all, putting the photograph up in their mediathèque. That means I have 11 locations and an updated map. I’ve also been able to update the poster I want to put up in the tourist information offices, etc. and have updated the press release pdf, although I doubt I’ll be sending it out anywhere else. Pleyber-Christ won’t be getting a mention on the radio though, the interview with my wife (I’m too English...
) should be airing today (31st March), with the soundbite hopefully also being available on the RMN FM website.
(note - entry typed on the 31/3, but not uploaded due to lack of Internet connection)
28/03/16 07:37 Filed in: Professional Development
I’ve gone and set up a Facebook page following pressure from Aude at RMN FM… It’s at www.facebook.com/iamRobTM
Beyond the immediate TYB use it will get, I suppose I ought to now include it within my PPP. I’ll try and keep it going.
“Effectivement Rob a un fort accent anglais. Je pense qu’il serait mieux que ce soit vous, Lory, qui preniez la parole à l’antenne.”
It seems my French is too “English” for the radio... And with that news I breathe a huge sigh of relief as it will be my wife (Lory) who will be giving a 2-minute soundbite to regional Breton radio station RMN FM to promote the upcoming exhibition in Brittany in their cultural segment. Of course, I’ll have to tell her what she has to say.
In addition to the above, I’ve to send some stuff over to the regional newspaper Hebdo du Finistère
for inclusion, including an image from the show and a photograph of me. Ha, I’m a photographer, I don’t have images of me...!
I’ve also got the photo call with Le Poher
for a piece and have to get in touch with Le Telegramme
when we arrive there.
That week is going to be crazy busy!
The presentation of the TYB project went painlessly enough, talking over the shared slides. In discussing further a few thoughts came more to the fore in my mind, and I've also been asking myself questions about this body of work and my oeuvre in general. First of all though, the comments that were raised by Les and the cohort:
I spoke about how the organisation may not have been made any easier by my style of photography; I don't really make pretty photographs. Mathew countered this with what I must assume was an observation based on the 2 or 3 "purer" landscape images, the mist over the hills or in the trees. These won't be a part of the printed selection and are really there to pander to the needs for "prettiness". Is this a cop out? Have I sold myself short by including them? In a way I have, but then I'm sure I'm not the first to compromise a little on these things.
Mathew also questioned the 2 empty whisky bottles by the corn field, and whether these were a metaphor for the loss of people form the region. I rather glibly responded that the people liked a drink (I have more photographs in the same vein, but the light works better in that one). In truth though, I'd not consciously thought about it like that, but all of the images are really within one of maybe three themes; the melancholy emptiness of the region, or the protest (resistance) or perhaps, in conjunction with one of the previous themes, a touch of quirkiness (use of colours, fluffy bikes, etc.). Yes, there's other things too but it's mostly shot through with these themes - even down to the Fest-Noz posters which, of course, are written in Breton. So, on a subconscious level, I will have picked up on this. It's my way of working. It's sometimes a surprise what you find in your own work when you stop and think about it. And that's what I'd appreciate more than anything; people stopping and thinking about it rather than being momentarily charmed by a vapid prettiness (that's a different "vapid" than what might be drawn from the images).
Tanya mentioned that perhaps Brasparts might be an idea for the location for a second exhibition. Maybe that might be the case, based on their interest in this first one. I'd certainly like to pull together a second exhibition, and have mooted such an idea as part of the proposal with the mairies - that the original images will be pulled back into a single location. I particularly like the idea that these images might be the original images, perhaps with signs of weathering, fading or whatever. A flavour of having been outside... I think in reality this might be a bit of a pipe dream for the moment - it certainly can't be until next year due to other commitments, but then it will either have to be a short show, or there is a logistics issue with taking it down again. I'm not sure I'd be able to stay in country long enough for it to be worthwhile...
Les questioned whether I'd made it all a bit too difficult, that I'd set my sights too high and was trying to achieve something... not impossible, but dogged with issues. The language, the distance, the time required for responses to be forthcoming, etc. I don't think so though. The work needs to be seen in such a way, it makes sense to me for it to be seen in this way. I'm not sure I'd have been really happy for it to be seen any other way. I draw a parallel to an earlier body of work I've produced, Into the Valley, which should be viewed in the Ribble Valley, where it was photographed. At least initially. I've resisted this being shown elsewhere first, and perhaps its time has passed now - there is a reluctance for it to be shown as intended within the local gallery system as there are photographs of people (even children) and I don't have model releases. Not that I legally needed them. Perhaps the French system isn't so bureaucratic and oppressive after all - I've encountered the same over here in England!
The other question that came to me indirectly (i.e. it wasn't raised by Les or the cohort, rather as I sat thinking just before the presentation) was "why do I photograph the journey?" I'll save this for a future post - I think it needs some serious contemplation, although I do have a sort of half answer ready...
(the ones in magenta haven’t agreed yet...)
Whilst TYB is essentially a short time project (circa four months from initial presentation to getting the work out there), is there any real point doing things unless there are people to see it? And if not, how to get them to go and find it?
My TYB is spread across a region, on the notice boards in and around various village mairies in Brittany. Yes, by being on a community notice board, there will be people seeing it as they head over to the mairie for whatever it is they’re going for, as they head across the village square to the boulangerie or whatever it is that they’ll be doing. I do like this somewhat random aspect to the exhibition, the step away from the gallery and bringing it to the public. But, it would be nice if people took the time to see more than one of the images, even though it is possible (probable) that I won’t get to know that they have.
So something for the media - my wife thinks it should be print, online, radio and social. I tend to think not the radio but anything else would be good. I’ve already managed to get Central Brittany Journal to commit, so what else?
There’s the tourist information office - I’m thinking maybe an A4 poster for here.
The local press (in French) - there are a small number of newspapers it might be worth approaching with a press release. Breizh Info, Brud Nevez, L’hebdo du Finistere, Le Poher and Le Télégramme. But what to put out to them? What follows is a starter for 10:
“Le loup, le renard et la belette
is an exhibition of photographs of Brittany by the artist Rob™. However, there is a difference to what might normally be expected: instead of being held in a single gallery location, the photographs are being displayed on the Mairie’s notice boards across the central Finistère region, making them available to everyone to see, inviting the viewer to travel to further locations to experience the fuller exhibition, thus experiencing more of Finistère in the process.
The exhibition will start around the 4th April 2016, and will remain in situ for varying periods, depending on the local Mairie.
The photographs themselves do not aim to glorify or condemn, merely to record and to present what can be seen in Finistère. They hope to capture something of the life, beauty, solace and the fortitude of the region, whilst not brushing over the hardship and the conflict that life there can undoubtedly contain. A theme that recurs through this and other projects is what has been termed the “mundane” or "neutral"; those everyday things we fail to notice until someone makes an image and we are asked to stop and consider them: “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.” (Paul Klee). The exhibition therefore aims to make Finistère “visible”; a chance to stop and contemplate.
The following Mairie’s offices will feature a photograph from the exhibition:
Rob™ is a photographic artist living in the rural North-West of England whilst spending regular periods in Central Finistère.
After leaving school, he studied graphic design before moving into a career in engineering, initially as a designer and subsequently as a certification specialist. A number of years ago, he picked up a camera again in order to break away from the rigid constraints and structure of the technical and back into something more creative.
His aim is to record the journey, the road trip, getting from A to B geographically, temporally or metaphorically, and the things he sees whilst on that journey, using whichever style of image making seems right at the time. Occasionally he even tries different things.
His work has been exhibited around the world, and is held in both public and private collections.”
It’ll have to be in French of course.
It’s all been quiet with TYB for a couple of weeks - I’ve turned my attention elsewhere, the essay and the PPP for example (in terms of the course). However, things are inching inexorably onwards - a little frustrating when I sit down and pause to think about it, but it is moving on.
There are still only four confirmed mairies taking part, with another one looking probable (they’ve asked to see what photograph they would be hosting). I’m hoping a few phone calls next week will improve the situation and get me nearer to the hoped for 10 or 12 taking part.
I’ve also had an English speaking ex-pats magazine, the Central Brittany Journal, confirm they will run a little something on the exhibition in their April issue. I’ll send something off to the French media soon in the hope they can include something. I’ll also have to start hitting the social media a bit more!
Kergloff have agreed to be the fourth venue for Le loup... it feels like I’m getting there.
Last week I had a tutorial with Les Bicknell on the Testing Your Boundaries project. I’ve left it late to document it, but here is what I recall:
There was a very brief discussion about the lack of time and therefore enthusiasm that I’d been having, which had been lifted slightly with the news of acceptance from the first of the French mairie’s to host images as part of TYB. Plans for moving home are taking over at the moment (due to be completed some time around Easter…)
There was more prolonged discussion about how the villages that will be displaying the work might be connected to each other, whether there was any logic to the choice of venues (there wasn’t really – they’re a mix of those I’d been photographing). A phrase I wrote down during this time was
Extend to Exchange…
By this it was meant how to use connections from the UK in France, and vice versa. For example, is it possible to use a connection in the UK to open doors in France, to get past “gate guardians” that might block the way? Can twinned towns provide any possibilities – display in the UK to display in France, etc.
As it happens, Tanya and I have been talking with a small group of photographers we’ve exhibited in the past about photographing the English city of Oxford with the intention of having the images displayed in Oxford, Nova Scotia, and then if I go over there for the exhibition, photograph NS to display in England… The same principle.
Also, my wife (who just so happens to be French, hence my connection to the country) is a member of a twinning committee here in the UK. I’ve yet to broach this, but we have been invited over to France via this twinning committee to photograph the street art in Vitry sur Seine – I’ve no time to do this at the moment, so something for the future.
This all seems to be leading towards “art tourism” – I liked this phrase and will likely reuse it at some point. This came from my idea that you would need to go out of your own area to see the other images and those from your own (acknowledging that many will actually just look online if they’re interested), and that I hope to put flyers/posters in the tourist information offices, etc.
The actual display of work was also discussed, and how the work and the display can become a “book” in its own right, the work on one page and the work on display on the facing page – a recto-verso pairing. It might well be a worthwhile exercise to produce this book as part of the documentation.
Returning to the way that the mairie were selected, there was s recognition of the gap between the two (the mairie and the site the photograph was taken), it is not planned for any mairie to display an image taken in its own locale, so there is something of a journey to be taken between the two, the art tourism thing. This then lead to how this might be exploited, and to talk of video taken en route from the ferry to near my house – a similar thing might be done here also (Go-Pro stop motion type thing – “draft” video here
The project is slowly progressing, with the exhibition planned to commence the first week in April (our next trip to France), and with the website at louprenardbelette.weebly.com
and social media promotion starting now.
Loqueffret (Lokeored) have just confirmed that they will be taking part in the exhibition, which is great news. Three boards so far, with only one rejection.
They have come up with something that I’d never even thought about, which probably positions me somewhat within the art world. They asked me to confirm that I wouldn’t be expecting any payment from them for hosting the exhibition! I’m near the bottom of the arts food chain, I’m expected to pay for the chance to exhibit places (entry fees for exhibition calls and competitions, etc, or rental costs for a week in a gallery). I’m not in the position where I expect a fee to exhibit somewhere. That’s not my reality. Not yet at least, although I do follow campaigns like Paying Artists, etc. Without payment, how are artists supposed to survive? Which of course ties back in to the asynchronous discussions on value in the art market...
Anyway, I’ve sent them confirmation that I won’t be expecting any payment, and a thank you.
I’ll also be sending a follow up e-mail to the others to confirm this, and to nudge them along, although it is school holidays in France this week and next, so there may be a limited response, I might know more by the end of the month (fingers crossed).
Another quick update - Brasparts have agreed to exhibit an image! That’s two confirmed... that’s officially more acceptances than rejections.
I’ve received my first rejection from one of the mairie’s approached for the noticeboard exhibition as part of Testing Your Boundaries. Guerlesquin (Gwirliskin) have stated they do not want to take part. Never mind, you can’t win them all...
But on a much more positive note, I’ve had my first acceptance too! Poullaouen (oddly enough, Poullaouen in Breton too...) have agreed to host a photograph. So that’s it, even if it is just the one noticeboard, there will be some form of exhibition.
A couple of others have murmured in an quietly positive manner too, but nothing definite yet, hopefully they will swing over to confirmations in the next couple of days - I need to send a few more e-mails and letters to refresh memories, and to those where the mail hasn’t arrived for some reason... (one mairie has moved, another wants it for the attention of someone else, etc.).
So some bad news, which was always to be expected, but accompanied by the good!
Whilst I’m waiting for responses to my requests for permission to exhibit on the town/village notice boards, I’ve been putting together a weebly website to accompany it.
Any comments will be much appreciated...
A mock up provided to the mairies as part of the letters sent requesting permission to exhibit, just to help them with the visualisation...
The purple graffiti on this board is a recurring design, I’m not sure if this has any meaning other than being someone’s “tag”...
05/01/16 07:16 Filed in: Contextual Research
Emma Georgiou’s exhibition for her series “A Lunchtime Walk”...
Whilst in France I started making some initial enquiries by phone with the various mairie (Ty Ker
) offices that I’ll need to get onboard for the exhibition. They want everything in writing, with examples...
My initial reaction was that this was typical French bureaucracy going mad, but to be fair I should have expected it. French copyright law is such that everyone who appears in a photograph has to give their permission for each and every usage of that photograph, so they need to know what they’re agreeing to show on their notice boards as effectively they’ll be endorsing it. To a much lesser degree, property permissions may also be needed if the use of the property. From 2004 onwards, the owner of a property or object doesn’t have exclusive rights over images of the property from public spaces, although they can oppose the use if such use causes them an “abnormal” problem (according to the Photo This & That
I’m now in a position where I will need to write a series of letters with sample images and some clear background, including links to associated websites and all the stuff that normally goes with a submission and post them off to them. A bit of extra cost, possibly a slight delay but hopefully everything should be pretty smooth once they have that...
Well, it seems that it will be ok to put my work up for display a week or two after the March 14th deadline (presentation day), although of course I will have to include the documentation of the actual display within the journal and write up.
So, beyond what I was mentioning the other day, what are my first thoughts?
Displaying Le Loupe... in France is the basic concept, and it was always going to be something of an idea. I had initially thought about some form of gallery context for the display (well, after the book form), but now I’m looking of pushing those boundaries, taking the work outside the conventional environment. I mentioned the Tourist Information Office the other day, or perhaps the mairie. Now, I’m thinking that I’d like to see the work scattered across the region on local village notice boards, reflecting the fact that the photographs have been taken across that region. The fact that the notice boards are an occasional subject in these photographs isn’t lost either.
Spreading the work out, an image here and an image there will weaken the narrative aspects, which is fine - it’s not pure documentary anyway. What I might look at doing is providing some background information, perhaps through a linked website where people can see the other related works. It becomes the glue for disparate works that will be lacking in context in isolation.
As it stands, I’m not sure what is involved in gaining access to these notice boards. I’m guessing it will be via the mairie, or maybe the bibliotheque or poste (assuming there is one close by). I’m in France soon, so I will start to ask these questions. I can also look at other places that might be options for display... I had thought of some guerrilla postings, but if I link to website, there might be repercussions, which is something I’m not keen on experiencing (bureaucracy can be problematic for an easy life!). I also need to find all these boards..
As for the website, obviously it should contain some form of gallery for the images, but also some context, maybe a map for the images that are displayed. An open comments section? Or maybe just a contact form? Things to think about - I’ve not got these solutions yet.
Also, how to print? To what size? Initial thoughts are that they should be maybe A4 or so, but whether these should be photographic or poster style prints, I don’t know. Some of the information boards are completely exposed to the elements, some might be behind glass, or even inside. I don’t know. Inkjet prints will be waterproof (from a better grade printer, I’m not talking a cheap inkjet...), they’re certainly diesel proof anyway as the Ruscha Gasoline Stations Revisited project has proven. How durable they’d be when exposed though... Actually, I think that’s part of the interest for me, how things will last. Will they last? Will they be removed from the boards? Will they just decompose or fade? Board use might be time limited, so this might not be much of a consideration.
Maybe the prints should be a little bigger? Maybe I need different sizes for different info boards? Maybe some places will want things smaller, post card sized?
I’ll start to test the water, weigh the options and make some decisions with the aim of having things ready for Easter.
The Testing Boundaries part of the module is designed to do just that. And I can tell you, it feels quite intimidating.
Les Bicknell kicked off with a slide presentation outlining the aims of the project, which to cut a long story short is to put your work out there in a way that is appropriate yet not what might normally be done. There was talk of Open House events (not going to happen - I wouldn't want strangers coming around to my house, which is in any case in the middle of nowhere and somewhat small), Open Studio events (I don't have a studio as such, certainly not one that isn't part of my house), Shop Windows and Hospitals. There were other things too...
The more... difficult part of the session came with thinking who to put your work out there and describing those first thoughts to the group. Well, no, not difficult, but in some ways yes... If you consider my current project, the obvious thought would be to present it in some way in France (well, Finistère actually), and as the project has multiple streams, one of which is the emptying of the region, it might be considered that a venue could be tourist information offices, the mairie or maybe libraries... Would they want it to be shown there though? It could be argued that it can paint a somewhat negative image at times; burnt out cars, graffiti and empty premises and no people... Yes, it could be a tough sell.
Another option might be to see if I could make use of public information boards (like the one below), pinning to the boards for it to either remain or be removed. Or perhaps postcards distributed somehow. Or empty shop fronts. Or perhaps something totally different.
The distance involved will be challenging, to say the least. The fact that I'm only there intermittently even more so, especially as there is a mid-March deadline and I will only be there probably once before that time, maybe twice if I'm lucky... I think this really is a non-starter in terms of achieving it by March.
Do I therefore need to think about something else instead? What about making use of last year's Ruscha project, or even the Stephen Shore stuff from the making day? How can I make use of the GSV images? How can I present them? A small part of Ruscha's Gasoline Stations Revisited will be making an appearance in a show in Los Angeles this week, what else can I do with it? Do I go back to some earlier work? Some thinking is clearly required!