Saturday 23 February 2013

Immediate Nostalgia

'Tress Marked for Felling' (Consequences of Change) (larger version) is an extended title included after discussion with Kate Ware, curator at the Museum of Art, New Mexico. Although the images (below) are included in an ostensibly environmental show at PhotoPlace Gallery, the piece was created primarily as more of an emotional and psychological exploration.

When developing a new piece of work, it is very hard to understand in the present moment whether it has any legacy. The attachment to the moment of creation inhibits the ability to see objectively, so it feels like a big risk to show work so recently created.

Completed images and ideas must sit sometimes even for years before they can be developed or shown. In the medium of photography, there is pressure to expose the 'immediate present' which of course is impossible but the expectation is a bi-product of our engrained processes of viewing. Susan Sontag brilliantly summed up the paradox of the photographic process as a form of 'immediate nostalgia.' This piece and much of my current practice is directly inspired by that notion.

I have been interested in the concept of non-literal 'markers' or signs and the relationship between their abstract and actual meaning. This can be interpreted in many ways but in this context I am attempting to expose unseen timelines; emotional markers that influence present and future actions.

"We had a big woods and farm behind our house (someone else's property) that was a very important place to me. While I was young, the land was sold for a housing subdivision. My brother and I were outraged and devastated by the colorful markings with paint and plastic flags that signaled the end of our "wilderness." We'd come home from school to find these and the tire tracks of large construction vehicles." - Kate Ware, Curator of Photographs, Museum of Art, New Mexico

Other personal stories;

"It (sic) reminds me of coming home and the feeling of immense sadness on seeing the beautiful big tree outside our flat, a Victorian like the tenements, with the mark of death daubed across it's trunk. In the end nature beat them to it when a gale hari kari'd it across the street."

"This happened in some woodland I loved to walk in some years back. The fellers were really ruthless wanting to take out masses of beautiful old trees, so a friend and I went round and removed the marks on a couple of our favourites!"

Tress Marked for Felling (Consequence of Change),  Dec 2012 © Richard Ansett

Winter Timber, 2009 - David Hockney

Wednesday 6 February 2013


The mono-cultural landscape of Berchtesgarten, Bavaria stirs up inevitable memories of its recent history. These mountain scenes though are unchanged; it is the same now as it was before the virtues of mountain air and physical fitness were hijacked for the ideology of the Third Reich.
Many tourists come in their coach loads from all over the world to see the stunning views from the ‘Eagle’s Nest’ (given to Hitler on his 50th birthday by the NSDAP), now a cafe selling inoffensive pens and snow globes but the association with its Nazi past is strong and the big crowds are drawn to the landscape as a metaphor of horror and political power.
‘People are bound to the concept of heimat by their childhood, language and earliest experiences; it is an 'acquired affinity to the landscape.' Heimat can be regarded as association of identity to stereotypical notions of antecedence, community and tradition.
It is a powerful instrument of self assurance and orientation relative to a perceived notion of an alienating world.’
Mountain Scene, Berchtesgarten, Bavaria © Richard Ansett 2006

Heimat #1, Berchtesgarten, Bavaria © Richard Ansett 2006

Heimat #4, Berchtesgarten, Bavaria © Richard Ansett 2006