This exercise, I suspect is to test our understanding of some of the styles and movements we have been reading about in the course reader and in Clarke’s The Photograph. I have long been interested in Constructivism and Surrealism so feel fairly familiar with the ideas. I must confess though that I always dread using Photoshop so had not been looking forward to this moment. It was quite fun though and I can see the appeal or creating composite images.
The brief was to expound on an issue I feel is worthy of comment and then make images to express my concerns in various artistic styles.
My issue is, loosely, Immigration. I do not feel that I have exclusive rights over the land on which I live and I believe it is wrong to turn away refugees and asylum seekers. None of us own the earth. We are just visitors here. I am privileged to happen to live in a country that is safe and prosperous and democratic. Syrians, as just one example, love their country. They do not want to leave it but they flee because they fear their children will be killed if they stay.
Beyond the moral imperative, I also believe that London is the best city in the world largely because it is so multi-racial. Art, design, architecture, music, cuisine and politics all benefit hugely from the input of immigrants or their descendants. The world will be much better and even more beautiful place if we welcome those who need a safe haven and wish to live in our country.
With this image, I aimed to provide a new way of seeing what is a well-known tourist spot in London: the approach to the Millennium Bridge. Firstly, I photographed it from North to South to avoid the cliche of St Paul’s Cathedral in the background and I chose contra-jour lighting. I then added in a view down a pavement surrounded by scaffolding to create a sense of dislocation and provide two (imagined) points of perspective. The scaffold also provides an analogy for migrants helping to prop up the economy. After experimenting with various blends in Photoshop, I found a result which to me shows the mix of black, white and all shades of grey to imply a positive melting pot. Finally I superimposed a cut-out of one of my neighbours in the bottom right foreground to highlight the specific importance of helping female refugees who could be extremely vulnerable in their home countries. This image urges the viewer to consider what London would look like if no immigrants had ever been allowed to settle here.
For this image, I aimed to create a dreamlike appearance suggesting an alternative reality. I have used a fairly mundane subject matter and attempted ‘ostranie’. I chose a human statue who was working on the Southbank – a fairly surreal occupation in its own right. The stillness of these statues while all the tourists and denizens bustle around always seems so strange within a city. The stripes provide a analogy suggesting an allegiance but also camouflage and fitting in within society. The contrasting black and white also makes an ironic statement about the complexity of the problem. The appearance of this fragmented other-worldly creature challenges to think about what it means to be human and how we should all behave as part of this global tribe.
This is obviously much more tricky and I am not going to attempt to create an actual image at this stage (or possibly ever!). Immigration and the whole ‘world is a melting pot’ trope has been done to death and almost every idea I have had so far has felt completely cliched. I am hoping that at some point a great concept will present itself. My initial thoughts have been around the idea of the earth not belonging to us. I wondered about a riff on the new neighbour borrowing a cup of sugar but it actually being soil. Another idea was some of our national monuments and statues looking much more ethnic. I also like the idea of a Tom’s Midnight Garden scenario at the ‘jungle’ refugee camp in Calais. One night a hole opens in the fence and on the other side is a perfect English garden. The reverse could happen and a UKIP voter could see into the beauty of Syria before the war and realise that these people have a really strong reason to want to come here. I shall keep thinking.