Kealy-Morris, Elizabeth (University of Chester, 2015-07)
A Walk of 20 Steps: Representing memory of place “…’(T)he everyday’ is a space where practice and representation are complexly interrelated, where the lived reality of the quotidian co-exists with clichés, mythologies, stereotypes and unsourced quotations” (Moran, 2005, p.13) . Pierre Nora’s (1989) work documenting the diverse range of French national sites of memory demonstrates that the “where” of memory changes over time and that official memory can be challenged by alternative forms of cultural memory. Just like memory, then, place is also unstable and open to shifting social perceptions about its function and use. Joe Moran (2005) examines how representations of the everyday have influenced the ideas surrounding the relationship between public and private spheres in postmodern culture. Overlooked, ignored and discounted as a source of meaning for wider cultural developments, everyday culture then becomes a source of resistance for Antonio Gramci’s (2005) “spontaneous philosophy” and Michel Foucault’s (1980) “subordinate and unofficial knowledge”. The everyday culture my doctoral visual practice gazes upon, analyses and questions is the suburban landscape of my hometown, Wellesley Massachusetts, fifteen miles west of Boston, the state’s capital. My photographs capture daily shopping life in the tradition of deadpan photography depicting local vernacular which emerged from America in the 1960s and 1970s through the work of Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, Lewis Baltz, Robert Adams and Dan Graham. Of particular inspiration to my photographic method was the work of Hilla and Bernd Becher who began systematically documenting industrial sites around Germany in the late 1950s. The pair was interested in returning to the ‘straight’ aesthetic and social concerns of German practice in the 1920s and 1930s and a rejection of the contemporary leanings towards sentimentality. While the photographs of Central Street naturalise the assumptions and myths of conspicuous consumption, the act of photographing and decoding these signifiers of everyday upper-middle class life offers me space to question the legitimacy of this dominant culture of commodity fetishism and the effects of this landscape upon my identity.
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