Exercise 4: Shafran critique

  •  In what ways might a photographer’s gender contribute to the creation and reading of an image?

Without attempting to discuss a vast field of theories of which I have no real knowledge or experience, I would say gender has sociological, physiological, familial, cultural, traditional and psychological contribution to both the reading and creation of images. By this I generalise gender differences but I believe the experiences we have as we develop, the influences of those that surround us and the widespread portrayal of gender roles and expectations ‘taint’ the artist or viewer in ways that create different interpretations. Coming from a fairly gender role neutral family the series ‘Washing-up’ makes me think of my Step-Father but I understand that it could remind others of their Mother or siblings. Some may see it as fine to leave the dishes out to dry, myself included, but again I know members of my family would immediately dry and put away dishes like this.

  •  What does this series achieve by not including people?

In Shafran’s series ‘Washing-up’ the lack of a person as the subject leaves open the environment for the viewer to place themselves. It allows the viewer to encompass the role of the subject and to install their own interpretation and emotion on what they see. I, for example, see the banality of washing the dishes. The unending task that once complete starts straight over agin with the next drink or meal, an essential part of staying alive and thus washing up becomes an essential pastime. I also see home and family, the varying amounts of plates waiting to be put away, the memory that my step-dad would be annoyed that they were left out but also his way of showing support and love by completing the kitchen tasks after a meal.We also see the kitchen as a hub of activity, the drying paint brush after decorating, the forgotten tinsel from a celebration all revolving around the kitchen. I suppose the ubiquity of this usage is something that ties all genders and cultures together as it represents the consumption of food and drink in good and bad times.

  • Do you regard them as interesting ‘still life’ compositions?

I do regard the series as interesting. Even on the surface level the use of light to show the different times of day and season. There is beauty in the stillness amongst disarray and there are so many different views and experiences to be remembered and relived in each detail. I do however find the occasional disruption by random kitchens and viewpoints a little distracting, I feel these may signify when the artist moved homes or visited a different location, also the apparently random aspect ratios has a similar effect. I feel these images miss something that the more consistent and coherent set achieves but again if the objective is to instigate a sense of upheaval and unease I believe they work in this goal.

References

http://nigelshafran.com/category/washing-up-2000-2000/page/13/ (accessed – 13th. July 2020)

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