Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gillian Wearing as Her Brother: 1950s Amateur Photographer and Time Traveller

I still don't know how I feel about this photo. It's one of those works of art, one minute one thinks it's brilliant, the next it's shite. It's a photo of Gillian Wearing, based on a family snapshot of her brother. She had to have an assistant to take the photo, and wear a load of silicone to resemble her brother, and she had to work hard to copy the flash lighting and background ambience.

On the one hand, one's thinking, why bother? On the other hand, it's almost an epitomie of postmodernism, to use a lot of energy to replicate something which was done in a moment, originally.

I saw it for the first time in here in The Guardian, when I was travelling home on Maundy Thursday. And, here I am on Easter Sunday morning taking time out to blog about it. So it's certainly got the keep-coming-back-to-it quality of a great photo.

And I agree with her entirely about her dream subject: "I would like to time-travel a few decades back and take the kind of snapshots that weren't taken then, because people were more formal." People were more stylish too, I'd say. Briefly marooned, on Holy Saturday, in a "retail park" car park, (two park's in one concept, nary a tree or a duck or a swing in sight), and reflected that it's aesthetically awful: modern cars and shops are not really worthy of the worst photos.

But one of the reasons I'm so taken with Wearing's dream subject is that it chimes with the obverse idea I've been getting: a man my age, a keen amateur photographer, is transported here from 1958, say, with his Sporti or his Agfa Isolette, and sets about photographing this strange world he's found himself in.