[31Mar21 p.103] Part 3 introduces the logical conclusion of the section with the use of fictional texts and narratives using the examples of Michael Colvin (an OCA alumni), Christian Patterson and Joan Fontcuberta. I'll throw in a couple of suggestions of my own, Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye from C&N Part 5 and Michael Lesy.
And in response to Fontcuberta, a Banksy piece from Ian Hislop's 2018 British Museum show, I Object.
[4Apr] And another late addition, Cristina De Middel's The Afronauts, 2011.
Colvin's project was Rubber Flapper (2015) and his description of it is quoted at length in the cmat.
I intend to create a fictional hidden history by making a series of images of constructed photographs and artefacts. Through my images I aim to plot a narrative path that uncovers the story of a mysterious and intriguing woman who lives in a mechanical, self-cleaning house in the 1930s. Her identity and Lesbian sexuality is hinted at through the artefacts and a newspaper cutting.
I want to deliberately cut the project’s narrative short, to highlight how unsympathetic curatorial control can push LGBT identities into the shadows – therefore creating hidden histories. To enable me to do this my artefacts are portrayed as coming from an archive box to which I have been given access to research and photograph the house’s Art Deco history. My discovery of Rubber Flapper’s sexuality makes the fictional owner of the archive uneasy and my access is withdrawn, my research considered an ‘improper’ use of the archive. My narrative is partly an artistic response to real life events that occurred at Clear Comfort, Staten Island, NY State, home of the Alice Austen photographic archive. The archive was closed off to research by Queer theorists and gender identity historians by Clear Comfort’s board of trustees in the 1990s Michael Colvin in I&P p.103
The cmat describes the lengths Colvin went to in order to achieve verisimilitude in his artefacts.
Colvin, it seems, developed an impressive project that would demonstrate his photographic and artistic prowess, his concern about a serious social concern and, assuming that this was for his degree course, a project that would tic a lot of boxes with the examiners. It is the equal of many of the 'professional' projects cited in the course.
Drawing on some real events, Patterson created a highly-regarded photobook, Redheaded Peckerwood, documenting the story of two invented teenage serial killers. The cmat describes it is, 'an exciting example of how text and image can co-exist in a coherent and full sense' (I&P p.104)
[2Apr p.105] The Fontcuberta example is Stranger Than Fiction, a combination of six of his earlier projects in which he 'directly questions photography’s documentary authority' by faking evidence of mythical creatures. Here's a link one, https://www.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/what-was-on/joan-fontcuberta-stranger-fiction
The projects are:
Herbarium, 1984, where he documents a new plant species;
Fauna, 1987, the life and work of Professor Peter Ameisenhaufen;
Constellations, 1993 combining astronomy and astrology;
Sirens, 2000 marine fossils;
Orogenesis, 2002, mountains;
Karelia, Miracles & co, 2002, Finnish monks (fig C1).
We met Leonard and Dunye in C&N Part 5 when considering Constructed realities and the fabricated image. They (to quote my notes) 'created their own entirely spurious piece, The Fae Richards Photo Archive, to fill a void they identified in photo-history. Leonard and Dunye concluded that African-American women were under-represented and set out to remedy that with images of their fictional Hollywood star.'
Lesy came to fame with his book Wisconsin Death Trip, 1973 in which he combines a variety of authentic historical sources to construct and narrate events in Black River Falls, Jackson County, Wisconsin. A.D. Coleman's review of the book in his essay collection Light Readings (1979) opens,
Having written on numerous occasions about the importance of preserving those segments of our culture's visual archives which molder forgotten in warehouses and attics across the land, and having advocated for some time the interdisciplinary study of photography and such other fields as history and sociology, I am gratified to find a work which exemplifies the potential of these practices. Coleman, 1979, p.150
In 2018, Ian Hislop curated a show at the British Museum titled I object, Ian Hislop's search for dissent in which he combined items from the museum's collection to illustrate the theme of dissent. It included a 2005 piece by Banksy Peckham Rock. Banksy had installed this in the British Museum as a fake display object that was not spotted for 3 days. There was also a fake label in museum-speak.
The section concludes,
What links these examples is that the line between fiction and non-fiction is erased in an attempt to raise important questions and reflect upon greater issues than whether a photograph is a record of truth. Often storytelling in photography is seen as something the photographs do alone, and so they can, but these examples demonstrate that longer textual work can enhance the overall impact of the final outcome. I&P p.105
[4Apr] A late addition from Robert Shore's Post-Photography that arrived today.
Shore, in his section on Post-Photojournalism, writes of, "[a]nother key work … which employs playful and entirely faked visual reconstructions to examine the largely forgotten 1960s Zambian space mission".
† Christina De Middel, from The Afronauts, 2011, the front cover of Robert Shore's Post-Photography, 2014
[3Apr p.106] The cmat refers to narratives and plots in literature. An open narrative lacks plot or structure and leaves this to the reader. A closed narrative is tightly plotted and does not require imagination and interpretation from the reader. 'Closure' is a separate matter - an open narrative can still reach a conclusion.
Advice is given for using images and text:
[3Apr] Serial imagery can derive from coherent, fictional mental or textual constructs.
4.1 Text can either seek to direct or liberate the viewers' interpretations.
4.2 Some photographers base projects on other people's narratives, written or verbal.
4.3 Serial imagery can derive from coherent, fictional mental or textual constructs.
References for Part 4 are shown on the first page.