Friday, 10 April 2015

Charging the Void

I took these series of photos for the last photo theme of "Personal" at the Democratic Camera Club here in Edinburgh. The vase in the photos was made by my dad who taught ceramics and was an art lecturer. 

I first wrote about the vase in a blog post called Forget Me Not three years ago. Unfortunately, the vase had just broken which prompted me to write about it. I also wrote about the other objects I had inherited from my dad and how, although I was sorry this particular piece had broken, I wasn't even sure if I had really liked it. Although I love some of his other works, I wasn't really sure what to think of this one. Then, I wrote about it as if I had made peace with the fact that the vase was broken, saying that memories of a person shouldn't have to be preserved through objects, especially if you don't find that object particularly attractive. I may have written that, but I didn't throw it away. 

When we moved to Edinburgh from Germany in 2013 I took the two heavy pieces of the broken vase (it broke at the "neck" so to speak) with me and eventually found a restorer. (It must have been one of the few moves where things get mended rather than break). I must admit when it was away at the restorers, I didn't miss it much and only remembered where it was when they called me a few months later. When I picked it up I was amazed as I couldn't see the break at all. 

I still don't really know if I like the vase. The project gave me the opportunity to find a way of photographing it now it was mended.  In these photos I wanted to show a process of relating to it, not just showing the object itself. Maybe because the vase dates from the 70s, the artist Rosemary Trockel popped into my head and I began to think about how she addresses feminism and politics in her work, and how she mixes the distinctions between craftsmanship and high art, all themes in her work at that time. I then conducted rather functionary arbitrary actions on the vase, like a performance. I used the vase as a pillow and also as a rolling pin. (as far as I could see there was no functional use to the vase, so I gave it one.) In another I used it for target practice, throwing screwed up pieces of paper to see if I could get one in the opening at the top. (Quite a futile game, but an interesting way to map failure.) I shook out its contents onto a piece of white paper (the vase became almost corporeal, dust and debris reminiscent of ashes). 

At the meeting the main feedback I received was to film it as a performance. The term "(positively) Charging the Void" was used by artist and lecturer David Grinly in his introduction to the theme of "Personal" on why we take photographs today. 

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