Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ghost Estate Photography Projects

All this focus on decay and despair in many Irish photography projects got me wondering why ?

As Fintan O’Toole writes today in the Irish Times “Contemporary photography has revived this melancholia” I wonder if we are set to create a despondent photography culture with all these projects on the gloom and decay in Ireland today.
For example Anthony Haughey’s Ghost Estates project concentrates on the ‘concrete in the landscape’ and reinforces the idea that the recession has been a disaster in property and economic terms only. The recession has been more than just about the failure of private property but of real human suffering, “A living misery’ as Fintan O’Toole says in the article.The absence of people suggests that they are separate to the housing issues, or not important at all. We have to move on from this focus on the material and the real and not forget to capture the spirit, the indefinable, the joy, the innocence, lyrical beauty, dreams, light and life. There are other photographers who are doing projects on similar subject matter but some actually capture a transient spirit, ambience and psychological feeling where this project does not approach that feeling for me at all.
Photographers love to concentrate on “reality” on the sociological aspects of war, moments of history or the idea of photographer as ‘reporter.' They use the absence, the silence, the death mask, the time frozen aspects of the medium as these photographers seem to think that photography is best at showing absence rather than presence. 

The Russian film maker Tarkovosky wrote “Wherever it expresses-even destruction and ruin-the artistic image is by definition an embodiment of hope it is inspired by faith. Artistic creation is by definition a denial of death.” I am aware of the concrete realities of empty estates, despair and death but life goes on and life is everywhere and photography should be about wonder and discovery, finding the joy to care and live in the everyday.

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