How I go about doing things as part of my residency does not go unnoticed and people at x-church seem to reflect and talk about it. This is good, yet also slightly worrying as everybody at x-church might understand better than me what I actually do. Marcus Hammond, for example, likened the way I engage with what is going on to a footballer playing between the lines. I don’t know much about football other than there are 22 players running like mad after one ball that they do not want to share. I also know that it attracts a lot of attention and a disproportionate amount of private money. The latter makes me feel mad, especially, when I think of the recent cutbacks in public funding that so much affect everyday life in the UK.
I can only guess what a between the lines player does and therefore decide to search online. It seems to be a desirable practice partly because the player moves between positions which makes the game more dynamic by opening up opportunities to score. I must add that this analogue has certainly its drawbacks as unlike football x-church and its communities is neither a one dimensional nor goal orientated entity. Yet I will run with this for the time being as it is nevertheless intriguing.
I don’t know if I actually take on different positions at x-church, I am after all always there as ‘the artist’, but I aim to engage with what goes on in the different areas simply because I find it fascinating. As an outsider I have the obvious advantage of a somewhat distant position. Therefore I raise occasionally questions that might set off things or lead to something new or different. Other times, I am just there to see what happens. As every encounter can affect change within the dynamics of a situation, being there might trigger something as well. At least, I’d like to think so.
Marcus take not: On the whole, I am fine with being likened to a player whose role in a game plan is not preset.
Yet this analogy made me also wonder if my way of engaging is actually reflected in what I generate as part of this project. And at the moment I take a lot of photographs. For this I mostly walk around in the neighbourhood, sometimes with a friend, occasionally alone. I photograph whatever attracts me at that moment, be it the shadows on a shrub or a rust stain on the pavement. I believe John, one of the volunteers, might think that I am infatuated with weeds as I seem to photograph a lot them. Rightly so, I rather like plants that are resilient and defy the system. Madona, another volunteer, also knows quite a lot about what I am likely to photograph. So does, of course, Clive.
Last week, I chose 147 images and got them printed. They are not big but still weigh in quite heavily. Unlike an online image you can hold it in your hands but every print has also weight attached. This is not only the actual weight that can be measured with the scale but also the weight of a certain responsibility. A print simply is that bit more serious or annoying. It asks questions. Where to place it,what to do with it, how to arrange it within a series. Suddenly, when the digital file leaves its crease-free online life, it not only becomes a tangible manifestation but it embraces object-hood. As with any object that unlike a chair or table doesn’t do much, it is an awkward guest in the room.
Now I sit here and look slightly uneasily at the latest pile of photographs next to me. I already have played them through, combined them in certain ways, got critical about how I composed them, took note of potential adjustments and re-shoots. Of course, I had a particular agenda when looking at them. Whilst arranging them, I reflected on how they might convey what I think, how they could come together in a book or on the wall. I ended up convinced, that I have missed out important aspects and that I needed to go for another walk to find out more. Yet I also keep wondering what the people who know me at x-church might think about how I have photographed their daily environment. Is there anything at all that they will like about this stream of photographs that all too often seems to get lost in gazing at walls, fences and lonely shopping trolleys? I worry a little, stop and put the images back in the pile.
Then there comes a new question: Does my work reflect the way I engage with people? Are these photographs players between the lines? Do they prompt new thoughts and reflections?
One way to find out is to show them to somebody else. Maybe this week, I might arrange some of the images on the back wall of Chateau Marcus. Accessible for everyone who want to see. Who knows what might happen? One thing though is for sure, any response or comment will be welcome and helpful. I might even get some answers to my questions.
This blog post was first published under: https://loosespace.wordpress.com/2018/03/06/between-the-lines-or-what-to-do-with-my-photographs/