Surfaces and strategies – week 8

Much of this week has been taken up with background study in preparation for the video presentation to be submitted as one of the assignments in the current module. My presentation will largely focus on the methodology for production of a photo book on landscapes associated with two Irish poets. As readers of this journal will be aware, this photo book is to be my final major project in the M.A. course. Jörg Colberg’s “Understanding photo books” (2017) has been a useful source as also were the case studies in Victoria Forrest’s guest lecture of Martin Parr’s “Remote Scottish Postboxes” (2017) and Toni Greave’s “Radical Love” (2015).

I was also able to attend two exhibitions in London, Alex Präger’s “Silver Lake Drive” at the Photographers’ Gallery and recent work of Cindy Sherman at the Sprüth Magers gallery. Both exhibitions are related in their use of the iconography of the cinema. Sherman’s recent work consists of large-scale images of 1920’s Hollywood actresses, all elaborately coiffed and maquillaged,  but nonetheless showing tell-tale signs of age particularly in the hands. The images in the Alex Präger exhibition are more diverse, ranging from elaborately staged crowd-scenes to enigmatic, and often disturbing,  cinematic “stills”.

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From Alex Prager’s exhibition “Silver Lake Drive” at the Photographer’s Gallery, London
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From Cindy Sherman’s exhibition at the Sprüth Magers Gallery, London

By way of contrast, the Photographer’s Gallery is simultaneously hosting an exhibition of the late Tish Murtha’s gritty images of social deprivation in late 20th century Britain.

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From the exhibition,  “Tish Murtha: works 1976-1991” at the Photographer’s Gallery, London

In the course of a webinar this week with my tutor, Cemre Yesil, I uploaded a selection of recent images which might form the basis of my work-in-progress submission for the current module. Cemre’s advice was twofold: I should be more adventurous in my choice of subject with less focus on producing conventional  landscape images and, secondly, in view of the fact that the images in my major project are intended for publication as a book, to constrain the images to a single format, possibly portrait or square. In accordance with Cemre’s advice I have made a further selection of images and I look forward to discussing those with her in a forthcoming webinar.

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