Friday, February 27, 2009

Tamany Baker: photographic artist

I have been making photographs for over 25 years. I adore the medium of photography as an expressive language, complex and eloquent enough to convey facts and feeling with equal force.

My photography examines layers of the psyche and the tension found between the natural world and our modern existence, whether in the ice fields of Iceland or in my own back garden. I work instinctively to respond to personal experience, producing photographs which play on different levels - from the formal to the psychological and aim to convey more universal meaning. I also make hand crafted artist books and installations in addition to gallery photographs. I have shown my work worldwide and launched my first publication Transient Beauty in 2008, a photographic meditation on mortality and loss of youth inspired by my mother’s death.

One of my most recent projects Living with Wolfie has just won the Fine Art "Conceptual and Constructed" category of the Sony World Photography Awards, one of 12 categories, selected from over 35,000 professional entries. I will go to Cannes this April to receive my award and the images will then be included in a world touring exhibition and publication.

My interest in Vice Versa is to allow my work to mutate and respond to the world of the Dutch "other" and in doing so, examine my own expectations and values. Geographically, the Dutch and the British are not far, but I want to look at the subtlety of difference and common ground. I am excited at the prospect of not knowing what will happen in the exchange and of the diversity of the artists participating.

Below are some of the images submitted to the Sony World Photography Awards. The image above is the newest addition to the Wolfie family, taken in the recent snow which brought the UK to a standstill recently! I welcome comments from all Vice Versa artists to see what you make of the work.

At the end of the images, you will find my official line on the images - but this as with everything is subject to change the more I listen to the valuable insights of others.

The series documents my response to the 'presents' that Wolfie, my beloved cat, brings into the home. At first, I experienced some kind of horror: these dead creatures waiting for me in different parts of my house. Then I looked at Wolfie and tried to understand the instincts which brought them there. It reminded me of the difficulty I have in understanding the behaviours of the opposite sex or of a different tribe. At the time, my ex-partner had been repeatedly unfaithful and I saw some parallels in coming to terms with the difficult habits of the 'other', whilst also accepting their difference.

The ceremonial aspect of these photographs is similar to the Victorian Memento Mori photographs of deceased loved ones, using flowers and locks of hair to preserve the memory of the living. With these images, I am making a photograph from a shrine, engaging with the changing patterns of nature to bring myself closer to the memory of death and of loss. They may also be a way of acknowledging certain destructive behaviours within myself, as I become Wolfie’s accomplice in playing with the dead animals.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Arantxa Echarte: performance and installation artist

My area of interest lies within anthropological and ethnographical study. As an artist I engage with places and people, immersing myself within specific “situations” offered by the surrounding environment (anything from a scene at a local cafĂ© to conversations shared between people), and developing what an ethnographer would call ‘field work’. As John Monaghan and Peter Just say in “Social and cultural anthropology”: “Ethnography is to the cultural or social anthropologist what lab research is to the biologist, what archival research is to the historian, or what survey research is to the sociologist”. Judging by these statements, I believe that the term “what practical research is for an artist” is equally legitimate.

I believe that self participation in the aforementioned “situations” is the most effective way of understanding the ways in which other people see the world and interact with it. Being able to observe the event first hand, I am able to record these interactions and explore their social and cultural implications. I choose to bring my observational research into my every day activities as, usually, I encounter the most significant social phenomena accidentally. This process automatically implies cross-cultural comparisons and contextual engagement with the spectacle in question.

Therefore, my methodology is based on social observation from which I gather information in several formats: photographs, diaries, digital sound, conversations, or interviews. Because of the previously defined methodology, my work revolves around projects in which I am required to actively participate, and whose ending results are unpredictable.