More work on identity.

In the ‘Echoes’ world identity is a problem for a photographer, patient confidentiality and other issues combine to reduce the flexibility to reveal identity. It isn’t surmountable, just tricky. I have done some work on identity and this another piece of work on the same subject. At the Group I am running a project, based around photography and the ”Users’ are enthusiastic about the project. They have to construct a memory along a single topic line – which could be family, holiday etc. I hope to be able to show this work here, but in any case it will be exhibited at the Warneford hospital in their permanent exhibition space in any case.

One of the ‘Users’ has brought in two photograph albums and I noticed that some of the photographs weren’t there, perhaps they had fallen out or maybe removed, This set me thinking about the topic of identity, especially as the spaces were annotated by the owner. So I have borrowed the album and have looked the absence of the owner in places where she has suggested that a photograph of her had existed (I have also added a few more with compelling notices).

School photo

School photo


I decided to leave the first photo in the album and use that as a reference for the viewer. I wonder if it will allow a narrative to build….

spoilt viewc2 rudi and walterc2 royal eagle hotelc2 roof of Alexandrac2 pete and myselfc2 Larry - wifec2 me1c2 Mum and dad's weddingc2 mum1c2 myself and rogerc2 one of our walksc2 parisc2 jim and myselfc2 absent photoc2 showerc2 I expected grass not snowc2 having a great timec2 having go to the topc2 enjoying the viewc2 dad outsidec2 cliff and myselfc2


And then this, the penultimate image in the album, inside the back cover, not really a part of the album, forced in and the last image is a photo of some flowers and not of people or person or place.

Happiness with Chris

Happiness with Chris

Some of these spaces existed, others I have created – I don’t plan to reveal which I have done. My overall thoughts are that this has a strong sense of identity, and also that a strong sense of narrative starts to emerge – it maybe that I have come to know the lady in question, but I wonder what others think…..


5 thoughts on “Identity

  1. This is an interesting development John. Your question was whether this sequence of images builds a sense of identity for the subject who is pictured in the first photograph in the sequence. For this we have to rely on the text which previously annotated photographs which are no longer in the album.

    When I look at the text it talks about places, times and people connected to the subject. In some senses this builds a picture of someone who travelled quite a bit, mostly in the UK and Europe and enjoyed friendships/family connections with a number of people. We do not know who these people are and there is very little emotion expressed with regards to the people other than in the final image. All of this builds a factual picture of the subject’s experiences, which she deemed worthy (at the time) to document in her album. Although my own impression for what its worth is what we are given is pretty sketchy.

    For me the most striking feature of the images is not the possible identity of the subject, ie the owner of the album. Rather it is the sense of absence created by the missing photographs. This would be even more striking if there were more images with photos in place. I don’t know this woman, but what this presentation says to me is that she has lots of memories and lots of the people who shared them with her are now absent. It conveys to me a strong sense of her loneliness today. That said this might just be a construction created by the editor (i.e. JU) and therefore an incorrect and unfair judgement.

    • Thanks for responding Keith. I agree that this is a construct, some of the images were missing, some were extracted – the first image in the set is the first image in the album and I placed it at the beginning. The last image is the last image (of a person or people) in the album. The intervening images weren’t deliberately placed, I think I should think about that as another ‘construct’.
      What I wanted to convey, was a sense of loss and perhaps a sense of hiding/withdrawl. I had sensed these from handling the physical object which is slowly falling apart – perhaps another connection/metaphor?. I deliberately informed the viewer that these images were from a ‘User’ at the Echoes Group, and that the group deals with memory issues, amongst other conditions, is a direct feed to contextual information surrounding these images.
      It’s interesting that you sense a loneliness as that is something I wonder about with this condition; this particular ‘User’ isn’t clinically diagnosed with dementia though her memory is limited and she has other issue – as do most ‘Users’. I feel that she is lonely. I’ll not comment further in case anyone else participates as there is something else that I sensed from the album as I saw it that I wanted to see if I could express.

  2. To me the ‘absences’ also show that this lady once existed as a different person from the way she is now.
    There was an interesting post on Duckrabbit recently concerning dementia, and using a book by Tracy Emin as a linkage. Don’t know whether you saw it.

    • Catherine, thanks for contributing. Yes I did see the item in Duckrabbit, no I didn’t read it as I have been very busy for the last week or so – exhibition time next week! I will go back and look at it when I have some time. And yes I think the absences are a descriptive part of the work and I wanted that to come out – glad you noticed that.

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