INNOCENT LANDSCAPES REVISITED: 07 / FEB / 2010
SOME OBSERVATIONS WHILE DRIVING THROUGH A POST TIGER LANDSCAPE
Posted by David Farrell
"Utopias exist only in carpets" (John Berger). Trampolines in gardens, and trophy homes with garages bigger than most suburban houses, and other houses reduced to sell or available at two for the previous price of one, and some that are now advertised on trucks in fields, and ghost estates where empty houses haunt their inhabitants, and the work of an artist/joker/philosopher/republican posting tri-colours on bridges and road signs, and orange filtered blinds still protecting mannequins in the windows of fabric shops of small and medium sized towns, and the once brightly coloured and image-laden but now minimalist black and grey hoardings around stalled development sites, and the seldom crane, now an endangered species, and the return of pot-holes down which a small elephant could disappear, and a skeletal old man with a thin stick walking straight out of a Beckett novel with his open-fire dirt-stained face, who shuffles along the side of the road like the ghost of Christmas past, and the small irony of a dead petrol station being reborn as a petrol station perhaps selling Lazarus fuel, and this building below which, in the nineties, was a two-storey house on the corner of a Dublin street. These are a few of the things.
As a small aside, the top image poses a wee conundrum in relation to authorship, appropriation and photography - particularly photography that records/documents the consciously artistic actions of others. I don't know whether the person responsible for these tri-colours is documenting their endeavours in some way - I, the photographer, through empirical awareness, formal framing and subsequent editing can create a series that either mirrors or runs contrary to the intention of the 'artist' - am I also an artist through my observations and framing? - Or merely a craftsman? Or documentarian? What can I do to exert my authorship? Is it in this case by only making one image and refusing the obvious temptation to make a series of same and is it then my placement of the image in a larger body of work that somehow I can begin to claim this particular work as my own? It's an interesting question. It is photography's Achilles heel. Are we mirrors, windows or photocopiers, endlessly repeating what exists already - the midwife of a dying world conceived and lived by others. Perhaps our only salvation as artists is a deep appreciation of metaphor and allegory in order to photograph beyond what we are photographing.