Nostalgia

Once more the starting point is an OCA e-Bulletin[1] from Sharon called Photography and Nostalgia.  It covers the work of Jodie Taylor, a 3rd year OCA student who revisits her childhood locations.  Sharon starts with, “The two go hand in hand.  As soon as a photograph is taken the moment becomes a thing of the past, frozen in time for us to ‘remember’.”  Whilst the images on their own do not inspire me as they are simply images of places most of us could capture at any time, I am sure that the way in which they were presented was different and informative.  Also I am sure that many of us would identify with similar places and say that we recall something similar.  So where to now?

I often look at images I have made of events and holidays and places visited with ‘nostalgia’ but do not necessary take an image thinking I will come back to it with this emotion.  I have made many of those images simply because I liked it or indeed wanted to be able to remember.

But, what of the images I take for my course?  These are sometimes very different and up to now, I may never look at them again.  I have to ask, ‘is this good or bad?’  I think the latter as it shows that I am not being creative enough nor involved enough with the topics/subjects.

Stephanie comments on an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Photography of Chicago entitled Backstory.  This links to a PDF document[2] entitled ‘Backstory’ which starts as follows:

‘The three artists featured in this exhibition—LaToya Ruby Frazier, Ron Jude, and Guillaume Simoneau—tell autobiographical stories by intertwining personal narrative with the social, political, and cultural conditions of place.  Although they draw from their personal archives and backstories, their work is not entirely factual or diary-like. Instead they make projects that provide both specific and universal commentary—their individual histories becoming conduits for exploring collective experience. They also probe the fleeting, ineffable nature of the past and present, as they investigate the capacity of photography to at once promote and destabilize our sense of individual identity.’

A second document[3] downloadable from the MoCP site contains images for use in classroom situations.  This is particularly useful as one is able to study the images.  All three photographers have produced interesting series but I found those of Frazier and Simoneau more interesting than that of Jude.  This is possibly due to the people depicted more than places.

The image below is my favourite.  It captures for me the on/off relationship he had with Caroline Annadale.  They met at the Maine Photographic Workshop in 2000 when they were in their early twenties and travelled the world together before the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001.  After this Annadale joined the US army and went to Iraq.

Backstory_Images_and_Essays_for_classroom_use
Guillaume Simoneau,
Flying kiss, Rockport, Maine, 2000

The image of Caroline in 2008 (below) is more distant and less intimate, less nostalgic.

01 Caroline-Kennesaw-Georgia-2008 by Guillaume Simoneau
Guillaume Simoneau. Caroline, Kennesaw, Georgia, 2008

Now back to Jodie Taylor and paintings of George Shaw of the council estate on the edge of Coventry where he grew up, The Guardian 13 February 2011[4].  I have chosen two that are amazingly similar and one has to question whether these have a meaning on their own or only in the series, or possibly with captions.

Taylor3 From Memories of Childhood by Jodie Taylor

Scenes-from-the-Passion-L-005 Scenes from the Passion: Late, 2002
Photograph: George Shaw/Courtesy Wilkinson Gallery, London

And now an image of my own.

IMG_1505
The Town of Bikov, Sakhalin Island, Russia, 10 May 2010 by Doug Bell

Although somewhat more dilapidated due to the harsh environment, it is surprising at the similarity considering that they are on opposite sides of the world.

Yet, how do I view this image?  There is the nostalgic memory of the time there.  The cold, the mud the dilapidated buildings and of course the friends that were travelling with us on that day.

I can conclude then that as soon as I had taken this photograph, the moment becomes a thing of the past, frozen in time for me to remember.

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About Doug Bell

Having recently retired I am now undertaking some studies in photography through the OCA which, I hope will lead to a degree in photography.
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