I’ve been spending some time in Purgatory and I am hoping that ‘it’ will become the focus of the major project. I do not yet have a strong sense of the main narrative of the project and I am attempting to keep it as open as possible as I spend time considering the connotations and implications of ‘its’ name. Purgatory as a place, as a state, a destination, a history, a condition, are all options I am considering.
Toby Jurovics concludes his introduction to John Gossage’s ‘The Pond’ with: “A photograph’s greatest gift is to remind us of the pleasure of seeing. Its highest accomplishment is to reveal the unseen within complex even difficult pictures.” At this juncture I am not sure what it is I might wish to reveal, though the thought of a peregrination along the lines of Gossage’s is very appealing. And whilst Gossage goes to a place and documents a linear journey – in my reading at least – the physical demands of Purgatory as a place requires a there-and-back journey and though it can be reached from two physical courses the meta physical journey may wander hither and thither.
Gossage employs a single narrative representational device of monochrome, his images were taken in strong, high contrast light; and, with brief rest-bites, employs a directive narrative, impelling the viewer to accompany him from a place on the edge of civilization (‘normality’ or an ‘edge’ish’ land?) – leading back to suburbia, though what we feel about the destination is left for us – the viewers – to discern.
I’m starting to find resonances in Gossage’s work on my route to Purgatory, though with Jurovics’ words regarding revelation being uppermost, I wonder whether the land can provide a metaphor for this ‘place’ that I’m seeking to unravel.
I have been looking at the images I have made and wondering what they reveal, how they might lead me to a particular place of study. Gossage’s use of monochrome isn’t one that I have made, so I will make use of colour and black and white, and I know instinctively that the work will rest on my ability to sequence, on how the final edit will illuminate, or as Jurovics states: reveal.
I have deliberately chosen, what for me, are idyllic images. Photographs that might sport a chocolate box; placid, pastoral, bucolic; images chosen for what they don’t reveal – other than by absence. Purgatory is that in-between state, neither yet one nor other, occupying a ‘twixt and ‘tween and my desire is to represent it is more to the following image, very close by, very complex (my comprehension) and without a rational or simple resolution in view.
On a clear blue sky day Purgatory is a ‘pretty’ site, and blessed with good walking boots and thermals, the cold of these year end days isn’t a hindrance to enjoy the walk; and so I think of those that left the ‘place’ at the beginning of the previous century, how eight dwellings survived the isolation with earthen floors and open hearths. I also ponder on why this place, this state, this destination or this condition holds such an allure for me right now at this point in my studies. I am on two journeys, one of which I will describe here as I hope it will become the Body of Work for my final year. My plan now is to edit and exhibit images made over the last few days and plot a course for the next few weeks.