The Fae Richards Photo Archive

The Fae Richards Photo Archive

In a recent portfolio review during the Photo Paris weekend, it was suggested that I look at this work.

The Fae Richards Photo Archive is a collaboration between Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye.

Photographer Leonard staged photographs over many years of  fictional character Fae Richards.  These then formed props in film maker Dunye’s film The Watermelon Woman – in which Dunye plays the main character (also called Cheryl) who is researching the life of the 1930s starlet Fae Richards. The archives she looks through are the original photographs that Leonard staged.

The article in Archives & Creative Practice (for details see reference page) states:

“Through the use of photographic and archival conventions Leonard and Dunye successfully borrow from the lives of historical figures to create a believable narrative that opens up questions as to what is left out of the historical record”

The result is a multi-layered blurring of fact and fiction.

A relevant lecture clip from Contemporary Art in Context can be seen here

After discovering the work of these two collaborators I have been able to place my own work contextually alongside it as relevant pointers in my Jimmy project include:

  1. A mixture of fact and fiction which will create a photo book.
  2. The book will have chapters, based around photographs of the original album and its parts; still-life photographs which are fictional props; story telling self – portraiture.
  3. A longer term addition would be to include ‘missing’ photographs, taken by collaborators. Already I have four such images, but are unlikely to be included in my assignment submission.
  4. There will be archival material, either to be photographed or included as appendices in the photo book.

In my portfolio review it was suggested that I might concentrate on what was in my found album, rather than trying to imagine what was not there. Having read this article and others I am more convinced that the way forward for my current work is to proceed as planned. I will, however, look at the use of colour within some of my still life work so they they don’t jar with the original photographs; and also do more work looking at the album’s pages, as encouraged.

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