Friday, 13 November 2009

homage to Roger Fenton

Lesley Punton, Homage to Roger Fenton: Boules, Silver Gelatin Print, 1997
I've never ever shown this photograph. It was simply made as a bit of fun when I was on a residency in 1997 in Gallivare, in Swedish Lappland, North of the arctic circle - the farthest North I'd ever been. At that time, I'd been making 5x4 format black & white images where I'd photographed quarries, scrub land, boulder fields etc in an attempt to find a space that somehow resembled the surface of the moon. Spending time with a disparate group of artists from (mainly) Scandanavia, we often played boules and, being in the habit of looking at the ground and thinking of ideas surrounding wastelands/wilderness/deserts, I was struck by the resemblance that the fall of the boules in one particular game had to Roger Fenton's seminal photograph valley of the shadow of death depicting the aftermath of a battle in the Crimean War with cannonballs strewn over the ground. Like Fenton, I staged it again whan all the players had left (though in my case they had all gone inside for tea!).

Roger Fenton, Valley of the shadow of death, 1855, Getty Museum

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