There is an incredible photographer I admire called Richard Barnes, (http://www.richardbarnes.net) whose work hangs in such hallowed places as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library and the Harvard Photographic Archive. He photographs interiors in a way that tell a story, make you question the way that we box ourselves in, and what our living space says about the person who inhabits it. He has also done a lot of work with Museums, often showing them as merely containers that hold the odd and the everyday “things” that make up a culture, or a nation. His exhibition “Still Rooms and Excavations” looked at who decides what is worthy of preserving and exhibiting and what is expendable, focusing on the curators and their aspirations rather than the objects themselves and also on the enormity of such projects. His work has a really beautiful stillness and is surprisingly emotional.
I was recenty asked to photograph the interiors of a new restaurant in Bristol, and although all the furniture and fittings were bespoke they were getting lost in the malstrom of a busy restaurant. Taking an object out of the arena that it was intended for gives the object an elevated status; seeing an everyday object in an unusual place just forces you to really see it for the first time. Richard Barnes teaches his students to remember to “turn around” when they are looking for a shot, and this is possibly the most useful thing I have ever read about photography. Attached to the main restaurant was an empty warehouse, and suddenly by placing one stool in the middle of this cavernous dusty this piece of furniture was given the elevated status I was looking for.
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