Monday, 13 December 2010

More Chair Than Child

She shows me a photograph of her mother – taken before her mother was her mother- taken when her mum was a child. She says, 'that's my mum in the chair, but it's as if she's not there; so I want you to do a couple of things for me: tell me why I don’t like it’, and take a photograph – a portrait of me, just like it – as vacant...just as bad’.
Why she didn’t like it.
Not about the sitter - more about the chair than the child: less about the chair, than about the hair obscuring her eye. No: it’s a picture mostly made up of grass and sky. But more than any of these events, what the photograph does best is, portray two tents.
Her portrait.
Not about the kneeler (the opposite of that infamous chair photograph of Christine Keeler), it's more about the feet - more about the seat. Planned it (in my minds-eye) to be a portrait, titled: Lady in red, sitting on a red chair, with red-eye: but she looked to pretty – even with red-eye – that I asked her to kneel. She blushed, making for an even redder (better?) picture. But she wanted ‘bad’, not red. So I said, ‘all right, no head’. So here’s a photograph about red shoes… and socks... and soles; and socks in reality are no more than sleeping bags for feet; and where do sleeping bags sleep? In tents... and tents have poles. With this photograph, I've pole-vaulted - clean over - 'Portraiture's Achilles heel': how do you capture the 'soul of the sitter? I had her kneel. 

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