Sunday, 29 June 2014

Walking The Line

Richard Long’s use of photography appears to be a contradiction of the ephemeral processes in his land creations. The photographic records extend the life span of the works indefinitely, arguably undermining the power of their limited existence. It’s like seeing a Dragonfly in life as opposed to viewing a photograph of one; there is a tangible existential connection to being in the presence of something that will only survive for a day. Damian Hurst’s slowly rotting ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in Someone Living’ and ‘A Thousand Years’ are works that are less easily able to exist outside of their immediate reality and any photography of these artworks lack the fine art component; they are purely curatorial, like portraits of celebrities or holiday snaps of famous monuments. But Long’s images are more; they are an extension of his argument and especially ‘A Line Made by Walking, 1967’ elevates an otherwise potentially invisible and private action to a vital part of the artistic and intellectual debate. The fine art photograph is exactly that, the aggrandisement of something previously unconsidered or otherwise passed over; the ordinary made extra-ordinary and visa versa.

The straight line in Long’s work is a path of least resistance between two points; a dogmatic pursuit of a goal both physically and emotionally unwavering but further and more pertinently to my work, it is an interruption of the established or natural order. The camera records the “traces of the primal and ephemeral gestures in time and space” rendering them permanent; there is no past or future just record of present. It is the visibility of action that is important and not a two dimensional representation of reality. Yes!

The problem with photography as the primary instrument of artistic communication is this re-framing of the parameters through which it is viewed. Lee Friedlander is essential to any dialectic of the nature of aesthetics. The ‘line’ in his works transports us beyond the immediate two dimensions; it is a fracture in conventional understanding and an empathy with a facuitous state of mind (an awareness of that which is beyond awareness).

My primary interest across my whole practice is similarly dialectic, and this new work taken during the record of transformation of a subject, is a continuation and evolution of these ideas. It is an interruption of an original narrative and a further record of my unique personal and incongruent relationship to reality. It is a fracture in the ongoing struggle to define identity. An artistic practice is a personal argument with supporting material; it’s a thin line between success and failure.
Image_7077 © Richard Ansett 2014
Detail from Image_7070 © Richard Ansett
A Line Made by Walking, 1967. Richard Long
George Washington Bridge, New Jersey, 1973. Lee Friedlander

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