Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Vivian Maier's Garage

Grandfather and Granddaughter, 2012 © Richard Ansett 2020
I regret that I have discarded thousands of what I thought then were embarrassing original transparencies from my early career as a commercial photographer. My wonton destruction of what might now be a valuable resource was before the rise of the 'found photography' movement that evolved from the post-modern insecurities that 'photography was dead'. If only I had at least scattered these images anonymously to the winds to be discovered or better still, had not thrown them away at all.

Digital allows me to explore the same concept but beyond the nostalgia for analogue and I can investigate themes just by entering references into the search bar, new threads appear across multiple hard drives that respond to my current state of mind as I disappear down the rabbit hole. As a consequence of such a large body of work, many images that relate to the same file number can appear in a sort of Jungian synchronistic curation, which has become part of the 'Film is Dead' process. Its a form of basic algorithm stripping away human influence and leaving the universe to evaluate content. This can be applied beyond the personal archive into the swirling mass of imagery on the web by entering the # and the 4 digit file number of your original work. I.e. the file number of this attached work (see below). Try it on Instagram.

Recycling and re-evaluating my surviving digitised and growing contemporary archive is an important part of my practice as a discussion of photography existentially now. A distance is required from the source of creation and much of my work feels more valuable having existed 'in a draw' often for years to separate it from its original purpose. But further, the more significant the work feels the greater my instinct is not share it, like precious jewels.

My ego (only equal to my insecurity) puts an onus on legacy. I can reassure myself that any failure of my work to make an impression on this zeitgeist might stand a better chance in another. (A bit like Vivian Maier's garage). Images that have felt valueless or weak, can take on significant meaning in another reality; some new knowledge, a fundamental change in society (cough) or a new artistic voice free of introjection and all of sudden previously irrelevant images are liberated through that new lens.

My re-evaluation of the archive is often relative to my own personal progress but the influence of Coronavirus is so powerful that it forces all of us to re-examine our relationship to everything created BV. This monumental perhaps temporary rift has forced a response in the 'way of seeing' and judging work created in a world that feels so different to our current present. Images of hugging and touching, footage of club nights, thousands of sweaty naked bodies writhing, all feel like the curation of some post-virus (PV) exhibition.

A friend has asked me to work with him to find an image from my archive for his new track ’Selbstisolation’. As I scour the hard drives in an attempt to find the agreed file, I have come across this image I have always loved but it feels more valuable now ‘Granddaughter and Grandfather, 2012 (File #7250).’

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