Quentin Ball opened the evening with a fine set of images from the American South West. There has seemed to me to exist landscapes, the photographic capturing of which, any decent photographer couldn’t foul up. Quentin’s imagery stops that attitude in its tracks.
Quentin has patience; he waits for the light. And waits and waits. For me, if the light doesn’t turn up at the right time (i.e. the moment that I arrive in a location) then I’m off for a cup of tea & a bun. Quentin’s work is the product not only of patience but of a deep-rootedness within the landscape. He is not a day-tripper but one who has stored knowledge of where, when and the consequences of haste. Excellent work.
There followed three presentations derived from dérives in Lisbon where John Levett, Anita Strasser and Allan Grainger had taken part in a symposium earlier this year.
John Levett had visited Cova do Vapor, part of which housed an ‘illegal’ settlement; illegal in the sense of being occupied and provided for by its displaced, unemployed population. The term ‘unemployed’ is misleading; they are employed in the creation and maintenance of their community. The housing they have created is serviceable, safe and kept secure. This peninsular across the Tagus from Lisbon Central once house political prisoners of the fascist Salazar régime.In the circumstances JohnLevett thought it inappropriate to photograph the community directly.
He chose to photograph the soil upon which he walked. There was an obscure reference here to the final hours of the philosopher Walter Benjamin who, in fleeing Nazi threats had made a failed attempt to cross the border from Spain in 1938 and thereafter committed suicide.
Anita Strasser is known to us mainly through her engagement with the community in which she lives: Deptford. Her local and profoundly committed work has demonstrated fresh approaches to working within a community of which one is a member. She works from inside rather than arriving as a pilgrim ethnic explorer. Interestingly but not surprisingly, Anita chose an early morning walk within the environs of where she was staying for the symposium.
The absence of a population on the street was coincidental not an exclusion of one: that would never be Anita’s approach. What Anita did capture was, again, the self-creation of place and community. Sometimes the quality of a neighbourhood can be indicated by what & who is not there rather than what is traditionally, and sometimes repetitively, visible. It was Sunday; community day off.
Allan Grainger is another for the dérive and the psychogeographical encounter. This practice, Allan illustrated by both his Lisbon encounter and a more recent dérive from a Peter Coles-created walk along the course of a ‘dead’ river in Paris.
I’ll quote Allan here:
The murmuring flow of this ghostly river constitutes the delicious possibility for the imagination to alter its course towards a different direction; away from J K Huysman’s dreams of melancholic landscapes and towards the new charms this phantom river has to offer from the top of its concrete entombment. Above this meandering river lies evidence to its past infamies – humanity as always leaving its mark to be discovered. There is also the hint (vestige?) of the ‘other-worldly’ in the processing of Allan’s images.
More excellence on Wednesday 18th. May: 6pm