Final Project

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As I posted last January (https://alicecalcagno.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/my-knee/) my final project was a complete fail for all the reasons already described.

Last but not least, having a little time now, I have been trying to upload it to the blog to show something of what I did – ironically with little success.

Once again the computer freezes and uploading stops, and I have given up trying.

Anyway, this is the 500 words excerpt that should explain what I meant to do.

A few examples follow…

“There are no statutory listed building within the site” is a documentary photography project dealing with the topic of regeneration within the Heygate Estate in the Elephant and Castle area. Because of the political and social controversy that have marked the latest years of the estate, I have interrogated myself on the purpose of photography and on my role as a documentary maker. I have felt the need to find different ways in which to approach the photographic project, which have brought me to interrogate the historical documents that have recorded the different phases of the birth of the Heygate while I was witnessing its end. This has made me re-evaluate the importance of historical memory and awareness so that I decided to incorporate these documents into the visual narrative. Aesthetically this has allowed me to experiment with different techniques and has stimulated me to think in different visual terms in order to represent its current state, working with a variety of languages.

The photographic collection includes roughly 50 images of the estate taken between January 2011 and October 2012 with overlaid captions and graphics taken from old archival documentation. These include excerpts from three type of documents, namely the Crossway newspaper clippings, the Heygate Redevelopment Planning Briefs of 1968 and 1969, and the Tenants’ Handbook.

There is a very strong correspondence between the texts and the images that goes beyond the merely descriptive. By inserting the texts and the graphics within the frame, these simply cannot be ignored by the viewer. Even though the words and the drawings may at first result distracting, within the context of the image, they constitute a necessary passage, an additional layer through which vision has to penetrate in order to get to the actual image. The texts in particular force the viewer to “read” between the lines as a means to reach a clearer image. The photos anchor these documents to something tangible and give them a new consistence. While the photos give the estate its spatial dimension, the documents tell a story and “stretch” the estate existence across time.

In order to carry out this project I have drawn inspiration from a variety of sources, but the most influential has been the work of experimental film-makers Yeravant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi. The filmmakers have been pioneers of found-footage films by manipulating rare archive footage and are renowned for their experimental work pushing the boundaries of cinema, visual art and documentary making. The dominant concern in their films has been the relationship between then and now as they do not see the past as over-and-done with but as a spectre, a constant possibility of recurrence in different forms.

By consulting the old material and using it in conjunction with current images, I realised how quickly as a society we seem to forget our past to the point that history appears to be repeating itself. I think that the fate of the Heygate has ultimately captured my heart and mind because somehow I feel that its story appeals beyond the current events, that there is something of a deeper message in its story, on which it may be important to meditate so that from its cautionary tale as a society we may learn.”

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