Issue 38 — Spring 2004
A theme in the recent history of photography has been its definition as a distinctive discipline with university departments and specialist publishers. Over the same period an interest in the medium has also spread to writers working in other areas. In this issue Elizabeth Edwards, Clive Scott and John Taylor writing from the persectives of respectively, Anthropology, Literary Studies and Art History, demonstrate what distinct approaches these disciplines can bring to thinking photography.
As part of the peace process and the prisoner release programme the Maze prison now lies empty. Donovan Wylie has had unique access to the Maze site and has documented this architectural testament to the political conflict in Northern Ireland. This new design replaced earlier prisoner of war style compounds with an individual cell structure and its construction was simultaneous with legislation ending political status for prisoners. Although ultimately a failure the new design was meant to stop political groups forming inside the prison. The future of the site is now being debated with proposals for hotel developments competing with plans for a Troubles Museum. Wylie's photographs record the British government's attempt at an architectural solution to Northern Ireland's political problems.
Relics of the Northern Ireland conflict appear in the work of Claudio Hils but he is more interested in the archival systems within which these objects have been collected. The material gathered by state institutions and political groups is in various states of organisation. Hils is interested in the process of categorisation and the imposition of meaning within these archives. His work invites us to speculate on the construction of histories in a post ceasefire Northern Ireland.
Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale have been constructing their own personal archive of images on their mission to record the ordinary and extraordinary details of life in Britain. With their portable caravan gallery in tow they have traversed the country in search of a land beyond that depicted in tourist board literature. Setting up camp in each locale they exhibit the collection and conduct surveys of their audience.
Doug Ross's work was made from the vantage point of the Royal Botanical gardens at Kew. The gardens have the world's largest collection of living plants, reflecting global plant diversity. The sky above the gardens has one of the heaviest flows of international air traffic. Ross brings these two facets of globalisation together in a work that contrasts the classification of information in airline timetables and plant taxonomy.
— The Editors