Friday, 1 April 2011

Catching up with Focus on Imaging

I'm way behind on the OCA blog, but here are a few thoughts I picked up on.

Interesting comments on the Focus on Imagining show...

"There is a distance and a coldness in the observation which I can’t get past; it speaks of the subjects as other, not fellow human beings who happen to be drunk, but drunks who might also be human". Gareth ...right here right now...first impressions

 "I’m not talking about his photographs of drunks, on which I totally agree with Gareth, I mean the other set of images shown on the slideshow, those tackling the topic of multiculturalism. I find them visually unsophisticated, and that’s precisely why I like them so much. Slanted, unbalanced and off-the-cuff compositions add a layer of instability to his work which perfectly matches the subject matter. I look at his photographs and I get a sense of a precariously unstable exercise in multiculturalism. I’m not making a judgement here; but that’s what I felt when looking at Denche’s images." Jose....right here right now…second thoughts

It's interesting that you both see the photographs of drunks as having a distance and coldness that you can't get past. I find it fits the subject perfectly. How many of us when we encounter drunks in day to day life look at them with compassion and warmth? I would suggest that the majority of people cross the road to avoid a drunk, or if in a social situation they observe from a safe distance, more often viewing with distaste or contempt or at best with humour than with the warmth and understanding of one human being to another. The sober public don't get involved but view from a distance and I believe that Peter Dench's photographs convey this reality very well.

At this point it's worth mentioning that I have lived and worked with people with alcohol problems so I am no doubt biased in my views, or perhaps just subjective?

Overall I like Peter Dench's work, and I agree with Jose's comments on 'ethnic UK'. Multiculturalism is very much an unstable and precarious exercise I think perhaps that while the photographs do convey this to a degree they also err toward the optimistic, I would have like to have seen  a few images which teetered more on the less 'palatable' side of multiculturalism.

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