Thursday 29 August 2013

Untitled #8

Untitled #08, from series 'The Big Society, 2008' © Richard Ansett (see Facuity

I Had a Dream

I drive through the Aylesbury Estate every week on the way to visit my boyfriend in Camberwell, it is considered one of the most notorious estates in the United Kingdom. In the 80's British Prime Minister Tony Blair chose to make his first speech here, to demonstrate that his government would care for the poorest elements of society and the estate is often used as a typical example of urban decay.

The estate, designed by architect Hans Peter Trenton in 1963, was an attempt by planners to house some of London's poorest families. The 2,700 dwellings were designed to house a population of roughly 10,000 residents, making it one of the largest public housing estates in Europe. Two thirds of residents are black or of a national minority heritage (Wikipedia).

The estate went through a period of decline in the 1980s and the area is still considered to be in the bottom category on the ACORN classification, signifying an area of extremely high social disadvantage.

I took these snaps as I passed by this empathic installation; I think it is the best public art in London and I cannot find any attribution to the artist. Pop down and check it out if you're a Londoner its on Thurlow Road. (See snapshots below).

The simple semantic shift from 'have' to 'had' is a reminder of defeated aspiration in all of us, as well as a call for vigilance against the inequality of opportunity. Although, this is a great piece of art, it doesn't have a responsibility to represent the area truthfully or fairly and many stories from the residents are of community and resilience.


Saturday 24 August 2013

Facuity (edited 22.05.2022)

Facuity is a word I felt I needed to invent to aid the examination of my objectivity in my relationship to the world with a camera, in the moment. It acknowledges the awareness of the complexity that makes up the 'facticity' of an object or event. It is an awareness of that which is beyond awareness.


Facticity –that which resists explanation and interpretation. Facticity is something that already informs and has been taken up in existence, even if it is unnoticed or left unattended. As such; facticity is not something we come across and directly behold. In moods, for example, facticity has an enigmatic appearance, which involves both turning toward and away from it. - Martin Heidegger

Acuity –the state of being aware, sensitive to. Keeness of perception - Merriam-Webster

The very nature of facuity is consciousness of the multiple frames of reference that make up an understanding of factual reality. It is the present realization of forces within and beyond awareness.

The content within the frame can be explored but it is its relationship to the external forces and an understanding of the presence of literal, philosophical, emotional and most importantly unknown elements that is the ‘immediate’s’ facuity. The facticity of an object is the context of its existence regardless of any awareness of it; the facuity is the ‘awareness’. For example: if we are imprisoned with a frame of reference, we are incongruent and unable to objectify the meaning of any event. A continual awareness and exploration of their incongruence is the objectivist observer's facuity and essential in any ambivalent relationship to reality truth.

An object or event can be viewed through a factical frame of reference (e.g. up and horizontal plain). Awareness of an alternative frame of reference may entirely alter the meaning of the same action; this challenges the notion of any concept of a shared universality of human existence. The reality of an action is altered by merely an acknowledgement of its facticity. Recognition of our lack of consciousness of all the frames of reference opens an event up to multiple interpretations at the same moment.

Emotions are not entirely relative to a conscious frame of reference in the same way that actions or objects are. An emotional experience may seem to be shared in a tangible way through a societal frame of reference but any individual response might be and I would argue, is, entirely unique. I would posit that that whilst manipulated, emotion exists outside of the forces that manipulate it but is inevitably infected, the unique emotional experience is merely triggered by it. To make sense and manage this form of 'emotional relativity' we have withdrawn into universes from where our emotions seem more manageable, comprehensible and ‘valuable’.

But what appears as ‘normal’ may in fact be an equivalent observation from within the same frame of reference; for example, one observing oneself. An alternative observation from an external position may appear different (although still entirely arbitrary).

This may seem obvious but perhaps only by constantly exploring in real time the complexity of the individual universe through an acceptance that understanding is relative (and therefore impossible) can empathy be realised. Those of us who are born into a universe that immediately makes no sense will struggle until we have made peace with that realisation. Constantly challenging the foundations of our existence inherently as part of daily lives is only exhausting 

I have included this very important image from my series 'Bathers, Ukraine, 2011' shot during my residency with the IZOLYATSIA Foundation and mentored by the great Boris Mikhailov, since acquired by Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF), 2013. There is an image of her looking to camera that remains unpublished.

Bather #5, from series Bathers, UKR/IZOLYATSIA 2011 © Richard Ansett. / Winner- Grand Prix de la Decouverte 2013


Thursday 15 August 2013

Hunger Interview

Here is a link to a new interview with Hunger Magazine a biannual of art and culture set up by photographer Rankin.

I photographed Rankin at his studio a couple of years ago for The Times. As the most well known, successful, commercial photographer of his generation with access to the most famous and recognisable faces in the world, it is interesting to approach a subject with that kind of calibre burned onto his retina. Of course, like a murderer, you cannot necessarily see the history of a person from how they look but there are always clues to our nature and Rankin's performance revealed his understanding of the power of the camera. That's the problem with photographers as subjects, they know too much but with him that was the point.

I personally hate being photographed, it feels like a huge risk trusting someone with my image and I refuse to be photographed even casually by friends on days out. There is a sense of karmic revenge for my objectification of others that has led me to be uncomfortable about my visual identity. I am less uncomfortable about a machine capturing my image (see Photo Me blog). Perhaps Rankin would make me look fabulous; I still don't think I would risk it.

During our time together he showed me one of his many scrapbooks and inside was a card of my image of 'Woman in Backyard with Rocking Horse' . After the session, he gave me one of his books signed with the sentiment, "Thanks for making me look thin." in hindsight a reference to my interest in obesity and perhaps relief that that was not the reason the Times sent me.

Thanks to Hunger Magazine for the interest.
Rankin © Richard Ansett 2013