Melancholy Objects

Reflecting on the reading of Sontag, On Photography, I was inspired by the assessment of the relevance of Lewis Hine and his documentary work on the slums and working conditions of children. Around a decade ago I visited Montreal in Canada to meet the Scottish/Canadian branch of my family. It was a monumental trip especially for my Dad who had reconnected with his brother after who he had seen once in around 30 years, and on that occasion was to attend the funeral of their brother Kenny in Glasgow.

As we arrived in Canada I was struck by my Fathers interest in the reservations where the Native American communities lived and I was intrigued by his interest. It seemed that as we were being driven around the area the reservations were often highlighted by small cigarette huts. When I asked my uncle he gave a brief lowdown on the communities and the conflict and distrust between them.

As Sontag recites the work of Hine with regard to idea of an ‘alien reality’. My reflection of the time I spent in Canada, those tobacco huts served to signify the gateway to that alien reality. As tourists I was aware of my fathers lust to visit these areas and find out for himself who these people were and what they were like. This was due to his infatuation with films from the Western genre which he often used to watch as a child.

As a result of my experience I often appropriate those types of Marlboro tobacco huts with the Native American communities I drove past. And for me that evokes memories of my Father and his excitement of the trip we had. My Father was in no doubt the excited tourist ready to invade these Native American reservations although not with a camera but armed with a million question for whoever would listen and contemplate answering them.

With reference to my own work I am intrigued with the idea of spaces that are alien to the middle classes whether rich or poor. In terms of further development I will continue to cultivate my thoughts and look deeper into the idea of alien spaces. The impact of his work serves to reinforce the photograph as a tool to invoke social change in addition to the unglamorous idea of appropriation.

In order to further my ideas I will research further the work of Nick Hedges who documented the oppressive abject living conditions in Scotland. This may be relevant and again points to my Father who would have spent his early years growing up in similar conditions in Scotland.

With my current project in mind which is based on the people who surround uncommercialisegd football, I am interested in the potential of exploring the idea of spectatorship and the dedicated individuals who are committed to following their team around the country to frequent these spaces that would otherwise be alien to them. I suspect that there isn’t much in the way of manufactured glamour or envy in what they do, my question is. Why do they do it? What motivates them to occupy these spaces?

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