Eric Kessels showed two bodies of work at Arles: Album Beauty, and 24 hours of photos. I found both very intriguing in different ways. Kessels is an artist and photography collector, and these exhibitions were essentially curated pieces. 24 hours of photos is just that - pictures uploaded to Flickr in a 24 hour period, printed out and piled high in a vast room.
The sight was compelling and to me slightly horrifying. I used to find it very depressing when I saw the Flickr figure of the number of images uploaded in the last hour - sometimes it depressed me so much that I switched the computer off and felt like giving up taking images. What is the point of adding more pictures to an already over-saturated world? As I've gone on in my studies I tend to be more selective about what I share and am increasingly interested in printing selected work. It doesn't really answer the 'what's the point?' question, but I need to find ways to give value to what I do. OCA tutor Clive once suggested making A3 prints of favourite pieces, and I do find that seeing the pictures as real things and not just images on a screen helps. It's still an issue I wrestle with from time to time. I can't say that I have found an answer yet, but this exhibition sort of crystallised my worries. It was strange to see how this was essentially made flesh. I can't say I have resolved my thoughts about it yet but I wanted to write about it all the same.
|OCA photographers viewing the haul|
Album Beauty was the second of Kessels's exhibits. Described as being an ode to the vanished era of the photo album, in some ways it is an opposite to the Flickr selection, in that it celebrates pictures that were from an era when film was relatively expensive and rare. These pictures were intended to be printed and lovingly preserved in albums. However the albums in question have becomes detatched from their original owners and families and come into Kessels's hands via fairs and auctions, so the meanings they once held are largely obscured to us, although many find echoes in our own experience and our own albums. Who was/is Helene? Who collected the pictures of her? Who is the girl who seems to be celebrating her first communion, photographed alongside the budgie cage? The collections showed a range of themes - pictures of babies and children, holiday images, family and social events. There were a lot of pictures of women in various roles. I was particularly struck by the pictures of this young nun with what appeared to be various family members, presumably on the day she entered the convent. These pictures will once have been very precious to teh people in them but now are shown to strangers on gallery walls.
There were pictures also hinting at broken relationships.
All in all this was a very interesting exhibition. I know I will reflect on it again.
|A pause in proceedings, before we set off for the next exhibition. A bientot!|