Exercise 4.3

Researching gender and landscape

Do some online research into some of the following photographic projects, ask yourself the following question as you research:
● How is the audience’s view of the landscape being challenged?
● What techniques are used to challenge our view and are they successful?
● Write some notes on your learning log for each practitioner.
Some Photographic projects you could research are:
● Roshini Kempadoo, Ghosting (2004)
● Susan Trangmar, Untitled Landscape (1985).
● Karen Knorr, The Virtues and the Delights (1992-1994).
● Elina Brotherus, Points of View on a Landscape in ‘ Artist and her mode l’ (2005-2011).
● Helen Sear, Inside the View (2004-2008).

LP&E, p.156

As most of the candidates have already been encountered on the course, let’s concentrate on Kempadoo and Trangmar.

The only reference to hand for Kempadoo is in Wells, 2009, p.85. Derrick Price wrote the section on Surveyors and surveyed: photography out and about and under the heading Photography within colonialism, Kempadoo gets a brief mention with an example of her work,

We need to remember here the scale of modern empire and understand that the structures of power established by colonialism are still active in our globalised world, albeit often disguised in a variety of social and cultural practices. We can, to take just one example, see many of the tropes through which colonised peoples were pictured, drawn on in modern tourist photography. Like colonial photographers they stress the indigenous nature of people, their settled lives, picturesque or exotic appearance and timeless existence. In contrast to this, postcolonial commentators draw attention to the vast diasporic movement of peoples around the globe; examine the sets of appropriations and relations of hybridity between coloniser and colonised, and problematise questions of identity and subjectivity. Work of this kind is being made in many places by very different kinds of artists and photographers. We have illustrated it with a piece by Roshini Kempadoo who works within the documentary tradition but digitally reworks the photographs to construct new images that seek to reinforce or undermine particular ideas about race and colonial history [fig. A2].

Wells, 2009, p.85.

Regarding Kempadoo’s, Ghostingthe artist’s web site (n.d.) states,

Ghosting (2004) reflects the traces and interconnections between Caribbean culture, Britain, and elsewhere through a multimedia artwork and photographic prints of spoken word and landscape in movement.
Ghosting provokes something between a partial presence and absence, a creolised evocation, or a half-truth presumed to have occurred from what we know existed. Our memory and imagination is familiar with the informal remarks and commentary, the creole voices, landscapes, and family photographs. Each fragment or snippet is triggered by your willingness to move a stone from one ‘home’ to another in the board – to empty out and place the stone somewhere else. It becomes something like a game playing device for a single player, or rather the stones or objects in Ghosting become traces – ‘whose meanings emerge from a scape, social, literary, imaginary, musical, techno, and landscape.’ (Vergès, 2006, p.57)
[1] Vergès, F. & Marimoutou C. (2006) ‘MCUR: Project for a Museum of the present.’ La Maison des Civilisations et de l’Unité Réunionnaise (pp. 1 – 197).

Kempadoo

The example from Ghosting is of a piece with her other works encountered, superimposing a relevant archive photograph on a parallel modern image. As stated in my course notes, it bears a striking resemblance to my I&P Asg. 5, which I thought of as quite deft but was described by my tutor as “done so often that it has almost become a separate genre”. When Kempadoo uses the technique, it is the topic she is illustrating that gives the project heft rather then the methods used or the quality of execution.

Susan Trangmar’s Untitled Landscape, 1985 is described on her web site (n.d.) as,

A series of 16 colour cibachrome landscape photographs. The photographs are of UK urban and rural scenes, interiors and exteriors. Each image features the figure of a woman gazing into the landscape, back to camera. The viewer is invited to make an identification with the view through her eyes while at the same time being aware of a ‘blind spot’ in the visual field caused by her physical presence.

Trangmar

Again, I only have one reference for Trangmar and again it is from Wells, 2009, this time only in passing. It occurs in Liz Wells’ own section, On and beyond the white walls: photography as art

Central to the postmodern is an emphasis on construction, the forging, staging or fabrication of images. Pictures are preconceived by the artist. Constructed photography includes photomontage, staged imagery, image-text works, slide-tape installations, photographs derived from land art; indeed, any photographic imagery wherein the conceptual engineering of the artist is clearly evident. Artists as divergent in concerns as Bernard Faucon, Andreas Gursky, Mary Kelly, Peter Kennard, Barbara Kruger, Richard Long, Mari Mahr, Cindy Sherman, Susan Trangmar, Jeff Wail and Joel-Peter Wickin all fall within this broad category The notion of construction derives from two sources: first, the idea that art can intervene politically, as in the example of the Soviet Constructivists or of the German monteurs. Second, in postmodern terms, ‘construction’ directly relates to deconstruction theory and practices. Both approaches refuse to take the world at face value. Constructed imagery in effect critiques what critic Andy Grundberg has defined as ‘concentration on the literal surfaces of things and on subject matter that seems to speak for itself’ ( Grundberg 1990a: 82).

Wells, 2009, pp.290-2.

The 1990 Grundberg reference is to an essay, On the Dissecting Table in Carol Squiers’ The Critical Image.

Regarding Trangmar’s Untitled Landscape, this is, from a current perspective, rather a trivial exercise, though it might have been considered cutting edge 37 years ago.

Turning to the specific questions posed for this exercise,
1. How is the audience’s view of the landscape being challenged? and
2. What techniques are used to challenge our view and are they successful?”

Kempadoo uses a simple overlay with transparency of the old image upon the new. On the example shown, fig. A2, the quality of the new image is questionable, given the extent of purple fringing in the trees. On Trangmar, it is not clear whether these are montages or the person was photographed at the chosen sites (fig. A5 is Greenwich Naval College from the North Bank of the Thames — it was taken from an identical position on the opposite side of the river to fig. E1 in Assignment 2, though many of the surroundings have changed): I would guess probably photographed in situ.

On the first question, Kempadoo emphasises the historical contexts of the locations, alluding to the pervading presence of the slavery experience. That is what gives importance to the work, not the technique. Trangmar’s point is made more trenchantly in Jo Spence’s Remodelling Photo History, 1982 (Blackburn, 2022).


LPE Exc 4.3 References

Alexander, J, Conroy, A, Hughes, A, & Lundy, G (2019) Landscape, Place and Environment [LPE]. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts.

Blackburn, N. (2022) Project 4 – Landscape and Gender [online]. baphot.co.uk. Available from http://baphot.co.uk/pages_lpe/lpe_part_4_p4.php#spence [Accessed 10 May 2022].

Kempadoo, R. (n.d.) Ghosting [online]. roshinikempadoo.com. Available from https://roshinikempadoo.com/ghosting [Accessed 10 May 2022].

Trangmar, S. (n.d.) Untitled Landscapes 1985 [online]. susantrangmar.com. Available from https://susantrangmar.com/archive/art/untitled/Untitled1.html [Accessed 10 May 2022].

Wells, L. (2009) Photography: a critical introduction. (4th edn.). Abingdon: Routledge.