Andrea Jespersen: Art that draws on Photography
Within contemporary art, there is a cluster of people who work exceptionally adeptly and knowledgeably with photography. Still, they introduce themselves as a visual artist rather than as a photographer, hence emphasising that their art practice relies on photography to nest fruitfully within a multiplication of materials and methods. The photographic medium is chosen when conceptual considerations validate its use; as opposed to a photographer who works predominantly with the photographic medium.
In this paper, I will explore fine art methodologies led by an idea that relies on photography to collaborate with other mediums, objects, or the viewer's active interaction. Through my new exhibition 'Human Silver Halo' [at Medical Museion, Copenhagen] I will question what role photography performs in my art practice and trace it's historical roots.
The historical emphasis will be on the 1960s and 1970s, a period when photography together with the 'casual' drawing became artworks in their own right, claiming their rightful positions within art. A selection of artists started to use photography, not to make a beautiful photograph (as in the spirit of photographer Alfred Stieglitz), but instead to accommodate an idea. This was noticeable in early American conceptual art such as Edward Ruscha's artist books or in Mel Bochner's piece Misunderstandings (A Theory of Photography); An artwork that was made in advance of the English translations of the seminal writings by Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes in relation to photography. The 1960s and 1970s also saw photography jump out of the neat wooden frame with new possibilities of escaping it's two-dimensional glass entrapment. These new spacial possibilities of what a photographic piece entailed were displayed in 1970 at New York's Museum of Modern Art in the exhibition simply entitled Photography into Sculpture.
This paper will identify a contemporary reliance on a synthesising of materials and processes (be it digital, analogue, mechanical reproduced, or handmade) to achieve a finished photographic artwork. My latest works exhibited at Medical Museion were made during a two-year association with the Museion and a photography residency at the Danish Art Workshops. Cross-disciplinary investigations and collaborations between contemporary art and other specialist fields are today many and varied, greatly helped (if not made possible) by the wide reaching integration of the internet. The hybrid camera/mobile-phone is woven into any contemporary art practice becoming a tool that at the very least sketches, records, or remembers fleeting ideas, or references. Through scrutinizing the methodologies of my art practice I will examine how omnipresent and dynamic photography is within contemporary art.