Having brainstormed with a little research on potential layouts for my exhibition I needed to trial some ideas to see how they worked. By gathering some laser copies of various sizes I began tentatively placing them on the walls of the studio.
I quickly decided against having the images framed; this is partially down to cost issues, but I also found the frames themselves distracted from the images. The majority of my photographs are very dark in tone so are lost when you then place them within dark frames, even if you then use lighter mounts. So this left me pondering a suitable layout. I tried a line of random sized prints running at roughly eye-level which looked OK. And a random cluster of images huddled together also looked acceptable. I liked the layout of a large print being supported by much smaller 6x4s but still none of the layouts really grasped my attention. I began wondering if I had become snow-blind and became bored with my own images. Starting from scratch I decided to lay out all the images on the floor, to see which stood out as the dominant pieces I would want to print larger & which would become merely supporting shots within the project. I stood back to get a eureka moment, as I realised the random collage I had created was the exact format that would suit the final exhibition.
I was reminded of the exhibition layouts used by A.L. Steiner whose radical normalisation of lesbian life celebrates womanhood with pride, humour, provocation and…well normality. Roberta Smith reviews 1 Million Photos, 1 Euro Each (minimum order) in the New York Times and compares her work to Nan Goldin or Ryan McGinley in her exploration of intimacy. Smith points out though that while the latter could be accused of “exploitation, intrusion, self-indulgence” – Steiner’s work is inclusive and natural…more in the line of Wolfgang Tillmans to my mind.
There is a good chance the space I have available to exhibit is moderately large. So I could take advantage of this in creating an installation that demands attention and provokes a reaction as opposed to tentatively asking to meekly be read. Working with such a contentious subject as the unclothed male we are not used to viewing him in such pore-sharp detail. The large prints will enable me to question the stereotypical view we have of the male body as well as bringing in other issues incorporated into the project. The layout has connotations of Google image search results and references cyber security / personas / ubiquity of the naked female form.
The mock-up here is a rough ‘sketch’ from the current selection. I hope to have at least half as many again if not double the amount of shots. And I am not happy with the overlapping of some images – due to my OCD I will need to carefully size and crop the shots so this does not occur. And some shots will need very careful arrangement so they combine with their neighbour. There will be a lot of work involved in getting this right.
Smith. R, (2006) Art In Review; A.L. Steiner New York Times [online] available at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A05E3D71F31F93AA15751C1A9609C8B63