Thursday, 20 January 2011

ELEVATOR SPEECH

Photographing this project for 10 years or so, every time I think I've resolved this work I am pulled back in!!
The decline of traditional photographic documentary practice, from the 1930’s until the early part of the 1980’s, is well documented. The analysis of the politics of representation that questioned the assumed authority and objectivity of the photographic medium accused documentary practice of creating a spectacle of affliction and reinforcing systems of oppression and inequality (Devlin, 2007, Pg 30). In an attempt to avoid such criticisms I photographed hand gestures, backs of heads, people swapping business cards and clenched hands avoiding identifying the individual wherever possible. The main part of the body of work is concerned with surface appearances, the lack of colour within the colour images hints towards the human condition concealed beneath the fa├žade.The surface details represent a culture of artifice within business and networking events, a concept based on my own lived experiences within the business community. These experiences led me to believe that the nature of business is crammed with insecurity, anxiety and delusion. As a result of these assertions I have attempted to capture these moments photographing, headless torsos, awkward body postures which is also a reference to my disassociation of business culture.


For the project to evolve it was necessary to go beyond the cynicism of Parr’s photographic assertions, which are wholly appropriate in its surface appearance, to rupture the morality of ‘savage capitalism’ ascendency of the late 1980’s. Parr photographs the individual within a culture governed by neo-liberalism. To go beyond Parr’s cynical representations of the individual, I employ a strategy of photographing the nature of business avoiding the representation of individual members of business networking groups. My project is a subjective representation of entrepreneurial culture and involves depicting the act of conducting business. My cynicism is directed at the culture of business, rather than a cynical depiction of the individual involved in business culture.

Influenced by British colour documenatrians of the 1980’s, especially Parr, the project started because I recognised a unique opportunity whilst working as a commercial photographer. As I have stated my commercial responsibilities stifled the project until I started making photographs liberated from financial rewards. This aided me in putting my own signature on the work, and halted comparisons with Parr (figure, 18 & 19). I have discussed within the text that the history of documentary photography is full of work that represents the effects of capitalism. Killip photographs the victims of capitalism, Fox Workstations depicts the aspirations of workers within a capitalist system, Parr the cynical representations of the sensibilities of ‘savage capitalism’ and Curran the examination of the Individual worker within the globalised world of capitalism. The Elevator Speech depicts the act of creating capital albeit at a regional level and represents global business practice in the 21st century.