Self-directed Project (First Version) – Postcards from the fair

Andy Grundberg – The Crisis of the real
collected in Liz Wells (2003): The Photography Reader: London:Routledge

Williams, V. and Bright, S. (2007) How We are: Photographing Britain. (01 edition) (s.l.): Tate Publishing.

My work for this project has evolved from my original proposal. My original intention was to explore the ways in which a travelling fair will transform a place from the usual day-to-day environment into something very different. While preparing the fourteen photographs I have selected for this work, I have been reading around the subject of post-modernism and the way it relates to photography. Andy Grundberg describes how critics involved in this discussion say that “post-modernist art therefore must debunk or ‘deconstruct’ the ‘myths’ of the autonomous individual” (Wells,2003:246). Although he then goes on to explore the idea that post-modern art cannot be seen as a complete break with modernist traditions, I am intrigued by the idea of adding distance to my images, to present them in a way that obscures any authorial stance. I don’t want to do this to suggest in any way that I do not stand by my work, but rather to try and present them as a more generalised world view.

In my first attempt at A2 I played with the idea of repurposing older photographs of my own to invest a new meaning into them. Although this experiment didn’t really work (and I have abandoned this approach for my final A2 work), I believe this approach is still valid. In an earlier post ( I write about a photograph “Morris Dancers” by Martin Parr (Williams and Bright,2007:147) that explores a similar territory to my own aim with this project. The course handbook notes how landscape art has been used to explore the idea of “Britishness”. Although travelling fairs are not exclusively a British concept, in many cases they are only an extension of events that have been part of British culture and history for centuries.

I subsequently wrote about Martin Parr’s “Boring Postcards” photobook (, which although not of his own photographs, did suggest an approach. I have had the fourteen images made into individual postcards and sent them each to a friend with a request to add some words suggested by the visit of a fair, and then return the card to me. My intention here is to explore the post-modernist approach and add further distance between myself as artist and the completed work.

The effect of transferring these images to postcard alters the colour and brightness and gives them a more mass-produced quality than photo-printing. I included a stamp and self-addressed each card as I wanted the cards to be returned by post. It would not be enough for the cards to be returned by hand; I wanted them to gather the additional effects that the postal system will provide. I wanted to include any postmarks, or slight dents caused by excessive handling, even creases if they have to be forced in any way.

Those who responded range in age from under 10 to over 60, and the words chosen vary from careful thoughts to purely humorous. Thirteen of the fourteen cards have been returned; although I expect the last to eventually be returned I am conscious of the time taken to finish this work and did not want to wait any longer. Since the postcards themselves will form my finished project here, I have decided to present them as a small book with each postcard shown front and back on opposite pages, along with some accompanying contextual writing. Although the book itself will form my completed work, I have included the images and text here.

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