Saturday, 27 October 2012

EID Mubarak

A friend of mine struggles with his identities as a Somali Muslim and a homosexual; its not a unique challenge, to rationalise the prejudice we feel towards ourselves when it is at odds with our cultural heritage. My journey isn't much different as I have found courage in increments to overcome inherent Christian Anglo Saxon roots that are at odds with my identity.

I was once caught in a heavy rain storm, and whilst sheltering under a tree I caught the eye of a beautiful Muslim man. As he came towards me, I was filled with the prejudice that as a Muslim he would inherently despise me. This assumption and judgement allowed feelings of irrational hostility that are at the roots of all prejudice. He came right up to me and as we began to talk, it transpired that he was homosexual. He spoke about the conflict between his emerging sexuality and the expectations of family and religion. His biggest fear was that he would never be able to be happy as himself.

I feel great empathy for my friend during this Eid al Adha that celebrates God's wisdom in sparing Abraham's first born son, providing a goat in his place. Perhaps in 2012, God will consider the sacrifice of one's entire humanity too high a price as proof of faith and settle for a more metaphorical forfeiture. EID Mubarak to all.

Here are some images I recently took of a Muslim facing Mecca on the top of the Cow and Calf Rocks on Ilkley Moor, Yorkshire.

© Richard Ansett 2012

Monday, 22 October 2012

A Masterclass in Hyperbole

I have been receiving the exact same email from an assistant for 4 years.

Dear Richard Ansett

I saw some of your photos on the Internet and I absolutely love your work!...

As a highly motivated, charismatic, and confident young individual. I
possess the right combination of personality and computer based skills;
together with the dedication to excellence, and the drive to ride the crest
of technological development, that has sparked the revolution in

With a finger firmly on the pulse of change, to ensure that you will always
be one step ahead of the game.

During the 7 years in which I have been assisting I have developed
attributes that would undoubtedly make me an invaluable asset to your
organization; alleviating much of the pressure associated with the day to
day, running of you successful photographic business, by solving problems
before they occur.

In exchange I hope to have the privilege of being able to learn from an
individual as talented as you.

An arrangement, which would no doubt become long lasting and mutually
beneficial... I am able to retouchimages to a standard that is truly professional...

Virtually anything you could ever need to do to an image, I can do with a
degree of style and excellence that creates results, that are consistently
flawless and elegant...

Essentially making me the perfect assistant for any occasions.

Willing to work, wherever; whenever; for however; long as necessary, to get
the job done.

Resilient in a crisis and focused under pressure; with a sense of
determination to ensure you will always be able to get the right picture.

Approaching each task with a passion and tenacity, that can only come from
the heart of someone who truly loves photography.

Simply put there are few individuals with the same degree of ambition,
talent and dedication as me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Alternative Reality

There was more photography than I expected at the Salon Art Prize. I thought the standard was generally very high though and its my first introduction to Susanna Brown, an exhibition can reveal as much about the curator as an artist.

I bumped into Michael from Troika Editions again, he always looks surprised to see me, like I am stalking him (I'm really). He was supporting three of Troika's artists Emma CritchleyCarolyn Lefley & Aliki Braine. Carolyn bravely showed some new works from residency at a talk with Uncertain States earlier this year, which I thought were an important continuation of her themes of de-construction but she's still not showing them.

It is difficult for me to rationalise the juxtaposition of my works with others; I can feel out numbered by the mob, perhaps others feel like this too. I accept that outside of the context of the original series the dislocation in my work can  feel rather awkward and uptight; my 'good friend' Jeremy Wood kindly suggested that it was an accurate reflection of my personality.

It's a shame I can't enjoy Private Views. I was embarrassed by the color temperature of the 'Anthony Gormley' portrait at the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize (my fault), I thought 'Woman in Backyard with Rocking Horse' was too close to the toilets at the Schweppes Portrait Prize, I hated the selection of the gay couple  'Chris & David' in the John Kobal Awards * (my fault) and although I was best in show at the Creative Review Annual exhibition, the very kind curator had to get a step ladder and change the lighting in the middle of the a packed private view because I felt my piece was under lit. Yes, I know...

*This was a particularly good lesson in the pitfalls of ambition. I Learned then that being included was not enough if it is at the expense of integrity. Chris & David whilst intimate was the closest to the established stereotype of homosexuality from the whole series and isolating it detracted from my message.

Here are some process shots during the creation of Mother & Child #4, from series Mother & Child, Ukraine, 2011 (with my assistant and translator Ulya).

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Beyond Contemporary Art

Ansett's surreal photos explore the myths of documentary image making, calling into question the assumed complicity between photographer and subject. Ansett often restructures his subjects environments using tools such as dislocation and unfamiliarity, which in turn, shed light on narratives that would have otherwise remained hidden...His work obsessively explores the interplay between a subject's environment, history and identity...which destabilises the viewers notions of reality and authenticity.
Images such as Woman in Backyard with Rocking Horse, convey a sense of both sympathy and repulsion whilst highlighting the weaknesses of the human condition. Woman with Electrode Cap #1 both celebrates the incessant progress...and the sterile coldness of technology. This ambivalence generates a stunning image and composition...that is challenging, evocative and impossible to ignore.

'Beyond Contemporary Art' by Etan Ilfield

Review from We Make Money Not Art

Buy a first edition here from Amazon

Monday, 8 October 2012

Salon Art Prize

Private View: Thursday 11th October: 6.30 - 9.00pm RSVP

An exhibition of work by 88 artists, chosen by the panel of Gavin Delahunty (Head of Exhibitions, TATE Liverpool), Godfrey Worsdale (Director, BALTIC centre for contemporary art), Anthony Spira (Director, Milton Keynes gallery) and Susanna Brown (Curator, Photographs, Victoria & Albert Museum) will be at the Matt Roberts Arts Gallery from the 12th October to the 3rd November.
Matt Roberts Arts, 25b Vyner Street, London.

Selected for exhibition: Mother & Child #3, from series Mother & Child, Ukraine, 2011.
This is the first of a new edition 30x40" c-type rather than the giant Duratrans installed in Ukraine, it's a gorgeous print if you have time to swing by and catch the show.

As children our reason for existence is defined by recognition, personal events have less value without it. As adults we learn greater independence but are inescapably connected to early memory.

The ever present but absent mother/God figure follows us through life as a constant arbiter of our world. We continually seek out and relive the sensation of affirmation and rejection emotionally learned in childhood.
Ansett was adopted from birth and as an adult has no understanding of his social or genetic antecedence, the mother figure is literally absent and present.
In this series and in his general practice he discusses that we are drawn to experience that satiates subconscious desire and memory.
In this series, he has literally detached the mother from the child at birth within these domestic environments, reliving a hidden memory; the images are both metaphor and personal allegory.