After this week’s webinar, I have had to consider the way I am discussing my work, and how much that I am projecting onto the work, which can distract from the reading of it.
We looked at critical perspectives to locate my practice:
- Community is the shared space and activities that provide many with meaning. Eli Durst has said “Many People need a sense of secular purpose” (Zoo, 2019).*
- Robert Putnam discusses a decline in ‘social capital’ in his book ‘Bowling Alone.’ Traditional community groups have functioned to serve in providing the participants with the skills and knowledge to function within society. Civic engagement, for example, has decreased as education has risen over the past 30 years. People now have the skills to function within a society that historically would have been nurtured through clubs, organizations and associations (Putnam, 2000). †
- In Roland Barthes posthumous essays entitled ‘How to Live Together’ (Barthes, 1977)‡, he considered the individual and society in an attempt to ask the question on if it is possible to create a community where everyone lives according to their own rhythm, and yet respects the individual rhythms of others? (Reference, paper on barthes).
I continue to read ‘Bowling Alone’ which has inspired the concept of looking at the theme of community. It has been useful and provided me with a number of critical perspectives to consider moving forward. The writing is very much in the field of economics and everything is considered as such. I have come to realise that I need to expand my reading in this area and started to look at the work ‘How To live Together’ by Roland Barthes, where he considered the individual and society in an attempt to ask the question on if it is possible to create a community where everyone lives according to their own rhythm, and yet respects the individual rhythms of others?
During the Webinar, it was noted that my explanation of the work could be considered melancholic where the images did not read that way. This perception could be a factor in the way that I was applying the Social Capital theory in terms of the decline that Putnam discusses in his work. The reading of the images is correct as there is much positivity in the images that I shot and clearly show a strong sense of community. My emphasis on the decline is mostly a projection of the unprepared statements I was making regarding my work. An area of clear development as although, Putnam is right to assert the decline in social capital, however, my work is to look at what is replacing it. Is the traditional community in decline, or is it evolving. If it is evolving, what is replacing the traditions.
My work on the Carnival was also a look at Putnam’s Bonds, Bridges, and Linkages’ in that the carnival culture and community is mainly that of the established working class demographic of the somerset region which feels besieged by the gentrification of the area. Local traditions are very much perceived as under threat by the people moving to the area. The bridge between these two levels of social capital are not considerate or in dialogue with one another.
Suggested further reading after the webinar
- Charlotte Cotton – The Photograph as Contemporary art (Cotton, 2014)§
Work in Progress
I have been working on my sequencing of the work and now have updated my online gallery, hopefully ready for the portfolio submission.
The work has a new tighter edit that focuses on the ‘Adult Play’ and secular sense of purpose, which are concepts that I have come to this week through reading Alice Zoo’s review of Eli Durst’s new book ‘The Community.’
I feel my work now sits very well on my website and has a clear narrative running through the set. I asked peers to also have a look at the work and received very positive feedback on how it all works together. A critique however, was to consider the information That I am providing to the reader, and avoid generalised sweeping statements regarding my work.
- *Zoo, A. & Durst, E., 2019. The Community. The British Journal of Photography, Issue 7890, pp. 40-49.
- †Putnam, R., 2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. 1 ed.
- ‡Barthes, R., 2018. How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism). Translation Edition ed. New York: Columbia University Press.
- §Cotton, C., 2014. The Photograph as Contemporary Art (World of Art). 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson.