A5 Context & Critical Analysis

Removing the figure

Back Course Work

Research Context and Critical Analysis Development Initial Submission

Tutor Feedback Reflection Rework Final Submission

Context

  • Gravestones as Identity
    • Gravestone HQ
      • A gravestone gives you one last chance to memorialise a loved one who has passed away.It’s a tribute to their life that will remain for many years to come, so choosing the right one is paramount.The type of gravestone you choose should represent the deceased’s personality and complement the epitaph. (Gravestones HQ, 2017)
    • Headstone.net
      • Early headstone history dates back to antiquity in Roman and Celtic cultures.Roman headstones often told the stories of heroic battles between the departed warrior and “barbarians,” along with their name and title.Pictured headstone history in early Scotland is equally descriptive, often describing the profession of the deceased.We can thank headstones and memorials for providing an alternative look into our collective historyif they were a craftsman, it might have a an emblem or insignia of tools. (Headstone.net, 2017)Celtic headstone history on the other hand, is one of simplicity, and does not tell us much about their early life. On their gravesites, they merely had a cairn, (a pile of rocks) or a monolith, a massive rock. Not much from this tells us about their lives. (Headstone.net, 2017)Headstones have been a part of our history for nearly as long as man has roamed the Earth (Headstone.net, 2017)Much can be learned from headstone history. It is truly a history of the attitudes, beliefs, and livelihoods of centuries of people. (Headstone.net, 2017)
    • ISCGA
      • Thus, they started engraving the headstones with a small epitaph or a few words about the deceased whether written by the individual himself or by someone else. Plus, they bore details like the date of birth and date of death of the departed loved one.The greatest advantage of this tradition is that by reading the inscription on a gravestone, one can derive information about the deceased and trace out his or her family history.Earlier, gravestones were used only by the middle and upper classes. However, after the emergence of the new Protestant theology, even lower classes started using grave markers for commemorating the life of a departed loved one. (Iscga.org, 2017)
  • Portraits without people
    • Robert Weingarten
      • His exhibition, Portraits Without People, includes sixteen photo montages of iconic people.
        The portraits do not include faces; just a neatly made collage of what we attribute to that person. (S+ART, 2017)
    • Jessica Nonnenman
      • “This photo essay is a series of family portraits. ”
        “Rather than depicting faces, the series shows collections of tools and objects belonging to my family members.
        “As a result, these photographs demonstrate the personalities and lifestyles of each individual.”
        “Each photograph depicts a singular family member, but the series in its entirety becomes a self-portrait as the tools and knowledge possessed by my relatives have been passed down to me.” (Behance.net, 2017)
    • Richard Wentworth
      • Making Do and Getting By
        Wentworth is inclined to explore the nuances of modern life and the human role therein.
        Mundane snapshots and fragments of the modern landscape are elevated to an analysis of human resourcefulness and improvisation, whereby amusing oddities that would otherwise go by unnoticed become the subject of intent contemplation.
        Wentworth captures pictures of improvisation, where objects are removed of their original context, stripped of their ordinary function and yet often rendered functional in an altogether new and unexpected way.
        Such encounters with incoherencies in the modern landscape, resulting mostly from the mutation of function, are injected with an inherently human vigour, despite the blatant absence of the human figure.
        It may even be argued that the centralised objects stand in for the metaphysical human presence they symbolise, precisely by occupying the central foreground, which, in popular amateur photography, is generally inhabited by the human figure.
        It signals a sort of victory over the mass-produced, materialistic modern world, for it is both due to and in spite of the absent human figure, that its unique metaphysical presence becomes manifest. (Gupmagazine.com, 2017)
    • Grayson Perry
      • SG: Map of Days isn’t a typical self-portrait. How did you first settle on the idea of doing a map?GP: Well, I’ve done several other maps. I like maps. So when I was planning the show at the National Portrait Gallery, as well as the portraits of the people that are in the TV series, I wanted to do a self-portrait as well. So I sought a metaphor. I wanted to make it more of a musing on the nature of identity and the self. I thought the walled city was a good metaphor – the wall, I suppose, can roughly be interpreted as your skin. But like any city, it’s dependent on the landscape it sits in as well.GP: That is the nature of the self – our identity only works in company. It’s co-created by other people as much as ourselves, so that was the idea behind it. And it’s a nice vehicle for jotting down things as they come into my head, practically. That’s how I work, on the whole – I don’t overly plan my pieces because I want them to have a random authenticity, I suppose. (Fund, 2017)
    • Phillip Toledano
      • After the death of his parents, Toledano found a box of Claudia’s things that his mother had kept.“Clothes, toys, health records, notes she wrote,” he says. “But also, everything to do with her death.  It was a museum of sorts. But it was also a second chance; a chance to know my sister; to understand the pain my parents carried, and the strength it took not to bury me along with my sister.”In When I Was Six, Toledano mixes text, still lifes of these objects with atmospheric space images he created in a fish tank. (Time.com, 2017)

 

A5 – Critical Analysis

A5 is a self driven work based on the body of study done in the former parts of the module, The only stipulation is that the final outcome must represent a notion of identity and place that
you are personally inspired by.

In A4 I looked at loss and how places contain memories of people, their items provide memories of their identity places can trigger those memories. For A5 I want to go further down the route to look at the last piece of our identity left behind after we die, the grave stone.

The web site Gravestone HQ which is an information site to help people who have lost someone decide what they want from a headstone says:

A gravestone gives you one last chance to memorialise a loved one who has passed away.It’s a tribute to their life that will remain for many years to come, so choosing the right one is paramount.The type of gravestone you choose should represent the deceased’s personality and complement the epitaph. (Gravestones HQ, 2017)

This suggests that some part of a persons identity is captured by the headstone we choose for the. The ISCGA says:

Earlier, gravestones were used only by the middle and upper classes. However, after the emergence of the new Protestant theology, even lower classes started using grave markers for commemorating the life of a departed loved one. (Iscga.org, 2017)

This leaves us to speculate that the status or class of a person can be deduced from the type and style of a grave stone

I was further driven by the concept of taking portraits without people and having looked at the work of people such as Robert Weingarten, Jessica Nonnenman, Richard Wentworth and Phillip Toledano I made some work for Exercise 5.1 using my photo table and lighting based on still life of objects belonging to specific people. I also looked at the work of artist Grayson Perry who though not a photographer made a work based on creating a map of a city to express his character and Identity. The work on portraits without people led me to think that the whole topic of identity and place was encapsulated by the grave markers indicating the final resting place of a person.

The intention is to make a body of work looking at various contrasting gravestones and to probe the idea that they say something about the identity of the poor soul who lies beneath.

References

Artsy.net. (2017). Grayson Perry | Map of days (2013) | Available for Sale | Artsy. [online] Available at: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/grayson-perry-map-of-days [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

Behance.net. (2017). Behance. [online] Available at: https://www.behance.net/gallery/24889145/Portraits-without-People [Accessed 13 Aug. 2017].

Fund, A. (2017). Grayson Perry interview: Map of Days. [online] Art Fund. Available at: https://www.artfund.org/news/2014/10/31/grayson-perry-interview-map-of-days [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

Gravestones HQ. (2017). GravestonesHQ | Definitive Guide to Choosing a Gravestone or Headstone. [online] Available at: http://www.gravestoneshq.co.uk/ [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

Gupmagazine.com. (2017). Making Do and Getting By. [online] Available at: http://www.gupmagazine.com/articles/making-do-and-getting-by [Accessed 13 Aug. 2017].

Headstone.net. (2017). Headstone History | A Study of How People Have Used Headstones. [online] Available at: http://www.headstone.net/Headstone-History-information.php [Accessed 11 Aug. 2017].

Iscga.org. (2017). History Of Gravestones | Gravestones Guide and FAQ – ISCGA. [online] Available at: https://www.iscga.org/history-of-gravestones.html [Accessed 11 Aug. 2017].

Npg.org.uk. (2017). Portrait – National Portrait Gallery. [online] Available at: http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw260594/Map-of-Days [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

O'Hagan, S. (2017). When I Was Six review – Phillip Toledano’s moving memento mori. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/may/03/when-i-was-six-phillip-toledano-review-photography-memento-mori-dead-sister-dewi-lewis [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

S+ART. (2017). “Portraits Without People”. [online] Available at: http://startstudioarts.si.edu/2012/06/portraits-without-people.html [Accessed 13 Aug. 2017].

Search.credoreference.com. (2017). Gravestones – Credo Reference. [online] Available at: http://search.credoreference.com/content/topic/gravestones [Accessed 11 Aug. 2017].

Time.com. (2017). A Photographer’s Goodbye to a Long-Lost Sister. [online] Available at: http://time.com/3737833/phil-toledano-when-i-was-six-photobook/ [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].