East London Work – Critical Context

Posted on July 4, 2014


It is time for me to start working on documenting the critical context for my East London work. The influences on my work fall into two categories: photographers whose works have inspired me (aesthetically and conceptually) and critical writing which has informed my conceptualisation. I plan to present reviews of these influences on this blog. This post sets out the scope of this work.


 Joel Sternfeld On this Site – Sternfeld describes this work as seeking out the “list of places [he] cannot forget because of the tragedies that identify them. He photographs these places and alongside sets out extended captions which explain what took place there.

Simon Norfolk Bleed – Norfolk’s work revisits sites of mass murder and ‘secondary mass graves’ from the war in Bosnia in the 1990s. The photographs show no evidence of what took place there. The extended texts (presented in an appendix in his book) set out a narrative of what happened there.

David Gillanders Uncivilised – This is a series of photographs of the environment where murders have occurred, combined with text from court transcripts and newspaper articles of the bare facts of each unimaginable event. The photographs are traditional black and white prints and are dark and moody. The text is printed onto the photographic paper and sits alongside the image. Each story is recounted over several image/text prints.

Angela Kelly Catharsis – Kelly’s work  explores Belfast’s post-conflict sites, which are now tourist sites along the peace walls. By adding text giving GPS coordinates to each photograph she comments that ‘the work also speaks to an absent military presence, a site that is marked by a painful history’. Small family photographs are also placed alongside the larger photographs of the sites. Kelly comments that she is exploiting the idea that ‘meaning of a photograph is negotiable’. Kelly calls her work ‘conceptual documentary’.

Anna Fox Work Stations – This is a photographic study of London office life in the late 80’s, a critical observation of the highly competitive character of working life in Thatcher’s Britain. Fox’s use of image and text in this series is of particular interest.

Victor Burgin In Grenoble – Burgin was invited to make a work in Grenoble which would establish a link between the city’s seventeenth-century art collection and the contemporary city. Here again the use of image and text is most relevant for my work.


Roland Barthes Camera Lucida and Image Music Text – The former may help to inform my thinking on the question of how photography mediates in the space of place, memory and passage of time. The latter is of significance when considering the interplay between image and text in my work.

 Susan Sontag On Photography – Sontag comments severally on the link between photographs and memory. Re-reading of this book could help me to clarify my conceptual thinking.

Umberto Eco The Open Work – Eco’s concept of a work of art which essentially requires the intervention of the viewer/performer/listener for it to be completed is of great interest to my work. This is a concept which I want my work to embody.

I am sure that during these explorations I will unearth further reference sources….