On a grey, windy November day, I was taking a photograph in the middle of a muddy field. Two boys that I knew approached along a path to see what I was doing. I asked them to stop where they were so that I could take a picture of them.
I have always been fascinated by the manner in which two worlds appear to momentarily meet in August Sander’s, ‘Young Farmers, Westerwald, c.1914.’ Not only do the farmers look at the camera in different ways, but there are subtle variations in their demeanour as a result of diverse life experiences. A photograph that I have carried with me in my thoughts for many years materialised in a different form before me.
August Sander, ‘Young Farmers, Westerwald, c.1914,’
The photograph I took that day of two brothers, balances the subjects shyness and curiosity, and the differences in body language of an enthusiastic boy and an uncertain teenager. It was in the way they looked at me, and presented themselves to the camera that I saw possibilities for a new body of work.
‘Emil and Lau, Farso,’ 2005
Through taking regular portraits I set out to get to know a younger generation, and to examine how identity evolves over the years, and with it the subtle changes in body language and self-awareness. With time the photographs reveal a growing bond between myself and my subjects, and in parallel, their own understanding of the process and mannerisms of portraiture.
In a world full of photographs of people, it is rare that someone is asked to pose for a formal portrait. From the outset I wanted to share the results of this process with my sitters so that they could see how they present themselves to the camera, and reflect on what it is to adopt a pose. With time a sense of awkwardness is gradually replaced by a certainty of how to engage with the camera and to present themselves on their own terms. The texts, compiled from conversations with the sitters and their mothers, reflect on this process of having their portraits taken and their differing views on the outcomes.
Set amongst these portraits are views from their bedroom windows gently pushed out of focus, and details of the interiors they occupy. The spaces the sitters inhabit reflect their changes in interests and circumstances; from a once prized trophy that has come to rest out of sight amongst all the cables of new entertainments, to a blank noticeboard that contains no new instructions since the occupant has left home.
This work evolved out of my series, ‘Family,’ and features the youngest generation of my family, and set in the present, forms the second part of my ‘Northern Trilogy.’
Print sizes; 60×74 cm, 74×60 cm and 60×60 cm, Edition of 5 plus 2 AP.