Week 6: Independent Reflection. Outside the Vernacular

At this stage of the Informing Contexts unit I have continued to broaden my understanding of different approaches to making photographs and in the masses of information it has been a difficult task to consume and interpret the different ideas presented. However in attempting to reflect I feel that I am beginning to look at the work I create and ask further questions.

This approach is perhaps assisted with my approach of conducting a range of shoots in the early part of the unit which enabled to some extent the opportunity to consider ideas such as authenticity, and the peculiar by going back through the work I have already created.

As a result, I was led to the image below which which is of a lady attending a football match with her dog. the lady is clearly prepared and planned to attend the football match in bringing her own chair and bag of supplies. However due to the composition of the photograph that fact that she is watching a football match isn’t obvious.

Figure 1: Drew Findlay

I found this interesting as with lots of the work I create the viewer is often able to place a subject at a football match due to the indexical contained within my work whether it be concrete structures and advertising hoardings amongst other things.

This photograph I find interesting as it breaks with the traditional rituals that I have seen at the places I have attended. I have spoken to lots of people who have explained their reasons for consuming non league football and their affection for the game at this level is clear as is the enjoyment they take from the communities they inhabit.

However the messages evident within this image are interesting or peculiar as this lady watched the football match in relative solitude immediately accompanied by only her dog and the equipment identifiable in the photograph. In context, there were 300-400 people at this football with groups of like minded people coming together to enjoy the game as a spectacle yet this lady I feel is alone in a very public place which represents a binary opposite to the vernacular nature of the photographs I have been taking to compose this project.

The idea of solitude in a setting where the community comes together I find more and more interesting. The provocation to revisit this photograph was a portrait of Ingrid Pollard in the Lake District from her project Pastoral Interlude 1988. The caption of the image reads:

Figure 2: Ingrid Pollard

“… It’s as if the Black experience is only ever lived within an urban environment. I thought I liked the Lake District; where I wondered as a black face in a sea of white. A visit to the countryside is always accompanied by a feeling of unease; dread.”

In a personal sense I am moved by Pollard’s image as she highlights the peculiarity of seeing a black woman in a place commonly associated with white middle class white people. Again going back to the idea of sitting outside the vernacular on the grounds of skin colour, place and expectations. I see Pollard’s photograph as an act of quiet activism which is where I draw comparisons with the image that I made at the football ground. As did Pollard, the lady had chosen to frequent a space on her own terms and has her own reasons for doing so. And it is such reasons and suspicions I feel make this an interesting photograph in addition to an act of quiet activism.

In consuming a football match, the lady in the chair has made the conscious decision to prepare, attend and consume the match in her own way, outside of the commercialised sense which may be associated with football spectatorship. As the nature of this football club is an example of a type of activism in its own right with a non partisan attitude and chants about being a vegan. The lady in the photograph has chosen to watch the match in relative solitude, outside of the community whilst consuming goods not purchased within the context of the football club. Borge puts forward a possible explanation of activist photography

“Maybe activist photography begins at the point that a photographer thinks beyond the photograph, or when the photograph is not the end, rather a means to a solution even if the solution is nebulous.” (Borge 2012).

The reflective choice to consider this photograph and its messages in relation to a binary opposite of football and consumerism aligns with the ideas of Borge by looking for the broader assumptions. Nebulous in its nature whilst encompassing a sense of confidence in opting for isolation within a community space.

References

Borge, M (2012) Photography as Activism, Images for Social Change. London, Focal Press.

Photographs

Figure 1. Findlay, Drew. Drewfindlay.blog (2020) https://drewfindlay.blog/2020/02/14/gallery-west-didsbury-and-chorlton-afc/ [Accessed 8/3/2020]

Figure 2. Pollard, Ingrid. Pastoral Interlude (2012) http://www.ingridpollard.com/pastoral-interlude.html [Accessed 8/3/2020]

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Published by drewfindlay82

Photographer based in Stockport, England. This website is for the purpose of my personal work, currently studying MA Photography at Falmouth University.

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