The disruptive weather was not conducive to a busy attendance of the gallery, but today’s public although much reduced, were extremely open to responding to my request to conduct a small experiment with their way of seeing. I decided to remain with my theme of seeing through listening, but open to taking unforeseen routes where possible.
My conversation with Matthew John was one such experience. We discussed the value of finding ways of connecting with the person behind the lens. Matthew put his thoughts very succinctly; “People stir up memories, which stir up music”. As a collector and artist himself he was interested in knowing more about the mind which created the image, and what their story might be.
Through the personal connections with details within an image, such as William Christenberry’s rabbit pen, we agreed that our own memories then evoked a new journey,
which will cause the original image to remain with us long afterwards as a legacy. Matthew’s journey went from his childhood collection of postcards from holidays to appreciating his parent’s wishes to give him the opportunity to broaden his experience and understanding of other countries, to his love of engaging with simplicity and integrity in art.
One young mother responded immediately to my request, as the music from the film “Deliverance” had already come to mind for her as she went round the exhibition.
A musician couple were delighted to think of the addition of sound, with music already an integral part of their lives. Their responses to the exhibition became more exploratory and questioning of the lives and experiences of the subjects and locations.
They were very interested in the juxtaposition of Walker Evans’ work with that of Carrie Mae Weems, both of which were their personal favourites. Our discussion prompted them to observe that the work by Weems represented a true liberation from the time when the impossible injustice of slavery was a reality as documented by Evans.
I will share the different moments as they were presented to me, like stepping stones connecting the personal to communal interpretations of the photography.
A takeaway curry for Christmas day
Potential for a reminiscence exhibition from a carefully curated postcard collection
Keats poetry (to calm the anxiety provoking nature of Susan Lipper’s photography)
Pulp fiction and John Travolta’s dancing (to lighten the effects of Lipper’s distressing portraits)
Feeling too young and British (struggling to connect with the unfamiliar nature of the American South)
Smelling burning smoke (cigarette smoke from Susan Lipper’s portraits)