I have been considering a critical context for discussion in the form of Robert Putnam’s book ‘Bowling Alone’* who discusses the decline of ‘Social Capital’ and its impact on traditional communities. Social Capital are the networks and established relationships between people within society, which also can enable that society to function. It is an area that I have just begun to properly research, and very interested in exploring as a photographer.
Identity and small communities is something that I have been exploring for a while without realising its link to social capital for some time. For example, I created a series of images called ‘classifieds’ when I was living in Western Australia where I responded to the adverts on Gumtree and asked instead to take a portrait. At the time, many people were using the site as a way of meeting people of similar interests, in a city that felt quite isolated and transient at times, forming a kind of online community.
“I have been doing tarot by myself on and off for 3 years now. I would like to take it a step further by reading for others. I am looking for people who are willing to be read.”
“Rock hobbyist looking to expand small rock collection, willing to pay for good specimens.”
“Hi, I’m a girl (early 20s) who just relocated to Perth, and I would love to find someone who genuinely would love to go rollerskating, maybe in Fremantle? I didn’t bring my skates with me, so it would have to be at a skate deck. I love disco and having a good time.”
Above images from ‘Classifieds.’ All of the text is presented as it was written on Gumtree.
Linking to the this week’s theme of interdisciplinary practice, I used the text from the adverts to caption my portraits (see above) which add an interesting background, context, and intrigue to the images. Writing, in one form or another, has a close relationship with photography. Another great example of this is Fay Godwin and Ted Hughes combination of landscape images and poetry in the book ‘Remains of Elmet’†
- *Putnam, R. (2007). Bowling alone. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
- †Godwin, F. and Hughes, T. (1979). Remains of Elmet. 1st ed. New York: Harper Row.
- ‡Godwin, F. and Hughes, T. (1979). Remains of Elmet. 1st ed. New York: Harper Row.