Sebastian Was Punished For Eight Hours — Dominga Gonzalez Castellanos
II Community II II spirit Edinburgh's Stills Gallery hosts the first retrospective exhibition of
photography by American artist WENDY EWALD. Words: Jack Mottram
Since 1969. photographer Wendy Iiwald has been working with children across the world. Despite working in the medium. Iiwald does not take photographs in the conventional sense. even when she is looking through the view- finder and pressing the shutter-release.
Instead. each project takes the form of a dialogue between Ewald and the children as. more often than not. her subjects take their own photographs. ‘I guess I see myself as an artist responding to a situation.‘ Ewald explains. ‘not as a documentary photographer or a community worker. but those things are combined in what I do to form a response to a situation. Documentary and community work are the means that I use to make my art..
This near-documentary approach breaks down the conventional politics of photography. blurring the boundaries between subject and author and documenting the workings of a community from within. Ewald‘s work. though. is far from a dry exercise in skewing the genre she has chosen to work in. Instead. from the groundbreaking Kentucky project. where the photographer lived for seven years as part of the community she sought to reveal. almost becoming her own subject.
‘When I first started working in 1969 with indigenous people in Canada.‘ she says. 'I knew that the things that I‘d seen were very external. and that there was something else going on there. I didn't look
'Making pictures is about power, about who holds the camera and who makes the decision about what is piCtUl‘Ed.’ Wendy Ewald
at it as wanting to change documentary photography.
rather I wanted to work to represent the sitttation of
these people in a way that made more sense. and was more evocative of what it was like to live there and that was taken further with lx'ettttteky.‘
As Iiwald‘s work continued. exploring a given community became a means to explicitly explore wider social and political issues. "I‘hat's always been there as a concern] she says. ‘but I‘m not sure that‘s something I‘ve always thought about consciously. With Kt’lllllt'k)‘ at that time. it was very important to show that this beautiful landscape and culture existed.
and that pictures taken by children could come out of
that. Later on Bluek Self; ll'lit'te Self project was very important to show how photography could be used to get at. psychologically and politically. a charged issue like racism. It‘s really all about power. because making pictures is about power. about who holds the camera and who makes the decision about what is pictured.‘
As part of the touring retrospective. Iiwald is showing new work in video. with children reading narratives inspired by case histories of Holocaust survivors and Nazi sympathisers. ‘I think my challenge has always been to do what I call “bringing the children into the room". The photographs are one thing. but I want people to understand that these are real. actual kids making these pictures or working on them. So. at a certain point I wanted the kids to speak. and wanted you to hear them and see them life size. Video gave me a chance to do that. and to work in colour and bring another dimension to what I do.‘
.S'eeret (ht/ties. the first retrospective exhibition of Iiwald's work. serves as a valuable means of tracing the evolution of her unique technique. and. perhaps more importantly. offers a glimpse from within of communities that are more usually marginalised or documented using the inherently imbalanced techniques of traditional documentary work.
Wendy Ewald: Secret Games - Collaborative Works With Children 1969-1999 is on show at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Tue 30 Jan-Sat 17 Mar.
News and views from the world of art
THE SCOTTISH COLOURISTS exhibition at Edinburgh's Dean Gallery has been so popular that its opening hours are to be extended in the evening. For the last two weekends (Saturday 20, Sunday 21 and Friday 26-Sunday 28 January), the gallery will remain open until 7pm. And it's not only the Colourists exhibition which is attracting visitors. The National Galleries announced that its attendance figures for the first eleven months of 2000 are well over 1,000,000.
THE SHORTLIST FOR the Creative Scotland Awards 2001 was announced last month by the Scottish Arts
Council From over 160 applications, 47 established artists including writers, dancers, playwrights, directors, musicians and Visual artists were selected, The awards, which offer finanCial assistance to a range of diverse proiects include Roderick Buchanan’s plans for a major new artwork using film, Nathan Coley's research into space and Wilderness and Martin Boyce's production of a film and soundtrack which explores film title sequences and themes of the modern metropolis The awards WIII be announced on Thursday 25 January,
GLASGOW-BORN ARTIST Anya Gallaccio, famed for work with flowers, is turning her attention to ice. A block of ice shipped from Lapland will be cut into drinking glasses in which the public will be invited to drink Absolut Vodka cocktails at the Design Museum, London on Thursday 24 January. The empty glasses will then be used to create an ice sculpture which will remain on the banks of the Thames until it melts.
LONDON’S CONTEMPORARY ART fair Art2001 opens this weekend (17—21 January) at the Business DeSign Centre, Featuring over 100 of the UK’s most Influential galleries including a strong Scottish contingency, the fair offers a Wide selection of contemporary art ranging from paintings to sculpture. Prices range from £150 to £150,000 offering art collectOrs, buyers or art lovers the chance to expand their collection.
Extended hours for the Colourists
18 Jan—1 Feb 2001 THE lIST 71