I have spent the summer of 2018 as an Artist in Residence, in London. I was not supposed to create or work in the context of my PhD, as the grant given by The Austrian Federal Chancellery for Art and Culture was not meant for artists who are at the time of residency inscribed as University students.
My stay was very much coloured by the fact that I, as a Serbian citizen, can not easily come to the UK. I was thinking how much my experience of a place, of a city, of a country, is determined by this feeling that I can't just decide to go there any time I want. The procedure of applying and gaining the visa is a humiliating and unpredictable process which makes me hesitant to even want to go there... Still, I was there, and I used my chance to see as much as possible of this island, that I nevertheless found beautiful.
I was a tourist. But I did not study tourism.
I went to New Castle, Cornwall, Margate, Brighton, Seven Sisters and – Blackpool.
I arrived in Blackpool on a rainy day, to stay two days on my own, before a friend joined me. I had only my analogue camera with me and four rolls of film. I was excited to see the place where by the middle of the 19th century the workers from factories in North England were sent for a week, to spend their free time together. The idea of a working class holiday was born here, and I was impressed to see this place nowadays. Weeks later, when I developed my rolls, I felt unease. These photos did recall the memory of my experience. They had something.
This contradicted my ongoing distrust in a stand-alone photographic image.
At that time, my work was about proving that words are needed, and suddenly without any, I was moved by my own photographs.
This turned into an open question that followed me during my study, which I am finally able to formulate: How can I, as a trained photographer, separate the expectation of audiences to see 'good', 'standalone', 'strong', 'monumental' photographs that I am capable of making and that do this 'something', from my actual interest in working with the 'in between', 'before' and 'behind' of photography? How can I emphasize the experience that precedes these photographs and not allow them to take all the attention? It felt as if photography with all its power, or maybe because of it, was a misleading tool in my hands, because it also is a medium burdened with meaning.
It took me another two years after this, to come in peace with this surprise and understand that there are at least two kinds of photographs in play, within my work, but I will come back to this later.
As there was no work, there is no result.
There are photos from this trip that you can see by clicking here.
Still, these photos are not typical travel photos, as they were taken by me, who has years long experience of working as a photographer commissioned in portrait, fashion, and reportage photography. Not only that my eye is trained to see things in a particular manner, but I am skillful in creating sequences of images that stand for certain readings, as these kind of images are usually created to 'tell stories'.
Together with the problem of analoge photographs in my video Tourist Agency (May 2018) this episode served me as an open question during my study. Only after Let me see the sea (February 2020), and after I started working on this documentation, I was able to notice a connection that brought insights relevant for understanding the existence of two sorts of photographs in my work, their meaning and relation.