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

Thursday 19 June 2014

Bill Oddie

Bird watching brought me to photography, as a teenager I was taught that standing still and quietly in a landscape would be rewarded . My greatest achievement was capturing a rare and very shy Water rail at a conservation area near where we lived. I waited all day in a hide with my father's old russian Zenit and a fixed 200mm lens; it only appeared for a few seconds but i was able to grab a bad photograph of it. None the less the fine line between success and failure in that fleeting moment was hugely addictive. I progressed to setting up cameras and flashes near to garden bird feeders and remotely triggering them from the kitchen.

I was grieving for the loss of my ability to see small birds when my eyesight failed in 2011 so I started to learn the songs instead; luckily my sight has improved enough to regain the connection to my youth, I was watching Kites in the Chilterns last weekend. I wonder if happiness is only defined as this re-connection to childhood memory; I hope it is not, for the sake of those who only have terrible early memories or anyone struggling to find peace as adults.

Bill Oddie has been very open about his periods of depression, which I hope can only help with the understanding of the condition and offer support to others. He is a lovely man and passionate campaigner for birds and wildlife.

The National Portrait Gallery has acquired his portrait for the Permanent Collection.

Bill Oddie, London Wetlands Centre for Radio Times © Richard Ansett 2014

Wednesday 18 June 2014

The Wood for the Trees

Here is some new detail sections from Hospital Gardens, Ukraine posted on the website today. I met this boy who was sheltering from the sun with his girlfriend under a gazebo of one of the hospitals in Donetsk, Ukraine. I had sourced a flowerbed previously and waited, wandering around the grounds looking for the right model. My assistant/translator and producer Ulya and myself sat and talked with them for a while about what had happened; he had recently jumped off a bridge into the water and hit his head on some rocks under the surface.  He was still vulnerable and was being kept in to be monitored.

It felt during the conception of this project that there were invisible, caring people that had an awareness of the importance of landscape in the wellbeing and recovery of patients.

I met the director of Bibliothèque Nationale de France, who acquired Image_2419 for their permanent collection in 2012. She introduced me to 'Le Dormeur du Val' written by Arthur Rimbaud, 1870.

It’s a green hollow, where a river is singing
Crazily hanging on the grasses rags
Of silver; where the sun, from the proud mountain,
Is shinning: it’s a little valley bubbling with sunlight.
A young soldier, his mouth open, his head bare,
And the nape of his neck bathing in cool blue watercress,
Is sleeping; he is stretched out on the grass, under the skies,
Pale in his green bed where the light falls like rain.
Feet in the gladiolas, he is sleeping.Smiling like
A sick child would smile, he takes a nap:
Nature, rock him warmly: he is cold.
Fragrances do not make his nostrils quiver;
He sleeps in the sun, hand on the breast,
Peacefully. He has two red holes in his right side.

Detail from Image_2453, Boy with Head Injury, Ukraine 2011 © Richard Ansett

Detail from Image_2453, Boy with Head Injury, Ukraine 2011 © Richard Ansett

Wednesday 11 June 2014

My Last Summer

This image of Junior was taken as part of a series 'My Last Summer' for CH4/Love Productions. It follows five terminally ill strangers who were brought together in the final stages of their lives.

Junior, from series 'My Last Summer' © Richard Ansett 2013

Goodbye Old Friend

Its a sad day. I have to say goodbye to my old and trusted shopping trolley, arguably my most important piece of equipment. It gave great service but finally just couldn't keep up with the demanding pace of the contemporary photography world. It was stuck in the past, hanging onto those old parochial views that ultimately were holding itself back and me. As with all things it has been replaced by a new, younger, fitter much more stylish model; its lack of experience in a tight spot matched only by its style, enthusiasm and youthful energy. No regrets we had a good run but we have to make way for the new. Goodbye old friend.
Shopping Trolley #1, with Profoto 7b (Paralympians, CH4/Sainsburys), © Richard Ansett 2012

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Antony Gormley

Antony Gormley, London Studio © Richard Ansett 2008

Antony Gormley, London Studio © Richard Ansett 2008

Monday 9 June 2014