Between Cultures (2002)
In 2002, I was awarded an artist residency at the McKenzie Heritage Picture Archive, London UK in partnership with Independent Photography. For myself the process of this residency and in particular the unearthing of a hand made book of original black & white negatives, author unknown, literally in the bottom of a filing cabinet; has proved to be a persisting memory within my own history as an artist.
The negatives formed the main body of work (Heaven’s Command) for Between Cultures and informed the direction and investigation into the making of a new archive of images focussed on how we read and interpret a visual recording by persons unknown of colonial histories and journeys. The reinvigoration and interpretation that the process allowed, impacted on how as an artist I view and work with photographic imagery.
It opened up a way of seeing which is concerned with how narrative can be constructed and remade many times over with a diversity of interpretations. It also provided new opportunities and ways of engaging with an audience with the Unseen (Correspondence) element of Between Cultures, which actively engages with viewers of the show and encourages participation (an image from the archive with instructions for viewing and contributing comments is handed out) making new commentary to be viewed alongside my visual interventions within the archive.
Between Cultures displays points of interaction between both sides of the (colonial) equation allowing space in the selection and sequencing of the images to explore a personal subjectivity. Between Cultures leaves the viewer with an open ended view from which to engage with the Imperial past imparting a sense of ambivalence. The images provide a visual prelude to the Empire’s end and challenge viewers to explore questions and points of interest pertinent to their contemporary (post colonial) selves.
The original siteing of the exhibition within the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London UK (the historic departure point for England’s Naval ships) was very significant to the images used and this context added a further important layer of understanding to Between Cultures.
The resiteing of the work (2006) within a new international space at centrea, canada, reinvigorated the issues and points of arrival and departure for the audience and artist, adding another dimension to the work as it travels and collaborates anew.
Between Cultures consists of five individual pieces:
Heaven's Command Parts 1 & 2 (2 unique silver gelatin prints at 32x26cm plus 28 unique silver gelatin prints 12x17cm)
Foray Part 1: Dread and Envy with Foray Part 2: Duel (2 prints at 58x59cm, 1 print at 83.3x109.3cm)
Rank (23 prints - 6.4x12.3cm size each)
Rule Britannia - a sound piece