I visited the Photographers Gallery in London last week to see the Perspective on Collage exhibition – I was seeking inspiration. I want to find new ways to work with my images from Northern Thailand, to develop a mode of expression about human trafficking that goes beyond what the photographs alone can say. To more overtly show the destruction of lives and how young children are monetized and ruined.
The exhibition was thought provoking, mainly because I really didn’t enjoy much of the work, although some of Roy Arden’s work was intriguing. I couldn’t understand whether it was because the exhibition pieces weren’t that inspiring (?) or due to my lack of appreciation of the art on display. However the Laura Letinsky and Geraldo de Barros exhibitions did excite me; respectively “Ill Form and Void Full” and “What Remains” incorporated collage and photography in very different ways, creating images that drew me in and made me want to look again. I love collage and have longed to express myself using layering and juxtaposition of ephemera, photographs and physical materials such as paint and ink. But I find it difficult; when is the image just messy rather than a carefully thought-through combination … how do I know when to stop … which combination is most powerful … what works … what doesn’t!
So I have been experimenting with cutting up, tearing, sticking, pinning, crumpling and photoshopping. Who knows what might emerge? However I have removed the images I originally included in the post. It was brought to my attention that the use of currency, in particular Thai currency, and the way the images had been manipulated might cause offence and possibly break the law. Lèse-majesté I now know, is the crime of violating majesty, an offence against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state and is taken particularly seriously in Thailand. (Source: Wikipedia).
While I believe that art and photography can and even should be provocative, it’s worth considering whether one’s “clever” idea actually undermines the point being made. (Hmmm … what is worse, defacing the image of a revered monarch or selling children into slavery? )
However it’s back to the drawing board but I hate a post without an image so here is an earlier, perhaps more cliched attempt at getting my message across …