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Allan McDonald and Contextualisation

McDonald is interested in the role of photography as an archival tool, and believes it is important for photographers to chronicle their specific time and place. This idea "goes back to photographers like Eugene Atget, a Parisian photographer of the late 19th and early 20th century. He was the model of a particular type of photographer who records and documents things about to disappear because of the forces of change. I align myself with that role and feel a part of that tradition."
From the article A cry for protection from The NZ Herald.

Allan McDonald Talk
Genre: Documentary photography, Street photography and Fine Art.
Ideas which are present in his works:
The Unstable City -

  • The theme of these works came out of the Christchurch earthquakes and the issues which arose during 2010 and 2011.  
  • His aim is to document or shoot images which are quite historic.  
  • Using this as narratives to develop thinking about what may have been or is to come 
The freedom farmers show / Relocations and demolitons
  • The images in these shows represent the opposite of what the home represents - stability, comfort, the central unit for families.  
  • Allan shared that the tension between the two was what he found interesting.
How do you as the viewer respond to his images?
Prior to Allan's visit, i didn't really find his images that appealing.  I didn't relate to the concept behind the images, the structures appeared quite dull and stagnant.  When he shared his approach of finding material as well as the conceptual context that the images reflected i could appreciate the images so much more.   I was able to understand why it interested him.  I chose the photo above because i liked how resilient the building appears, although it has been stripped right back, it seems to stand as if is unwilling to fall.  
Research of genre and how it relates to my work
I looked into the genre of documentary photography.  It is seen as the collecting or chronicling of significant or historical events as well as everyday life.  Allan spoke about the influences of Bernd and Hillas who are widely acclaimed for their extensive series of photographic images which they names typologies.   They started shooting typologies from 1956.  The common themes which they share is the use of images to portray the environment in which their subjects live in.  The Becher's body of work became iconic because they were records of structures that were slowly being replaced by modern architectures and landscapes.   Allan references the Becher's by producing works in series, as well as sharing the idea of structures which no longer fit the constrains of its evolving environment.  In terms of relevance to my own work, i would say that with my portfolio i am capturing a series of portraits of people that are very dear to me.  They represent my environment, values and also are a strong reminder of who i am and where i come from.  I believe that the works of all these artists reflect that in there works.

I wanted produce a series of photographs which chronicled the demolishing of my old church.  The site which the church sits on also housed the primary school; this has been flattened to make way to new homes.  

St Annes Catholic church opened 29 May 1927
St Annes Catholic Church was opened by the Archbishop of Auckland, James Liston, on 29th May, 1927. It was not until 1947 that a local Priest was appointed to the Church, when Father Michael O'Carrol arrived and the Manurewa Parish was created. In 1957 St Annes was extended to treble the size and a seating plan of 400, by a building placed around the old structure.

Below are my photos of the front building over three days.  At the moment the church is being stripped of all its good parts.  Once all that is done the demo team will come in and flatten the structure.  It may not be a significant event for some, but the building holds a lot of memories and historical value to all associated with the church.  In these photos i tried to included the rubble in the front, similar to that of Allans photo above.

These photo show the progress made each day as the roof is dismantled.  I wished that i had taken a photo at the same spot so that the progress could be seen clearly.  Each time i visited i felt as if i was saying goodbye to an old friend.  Its an eerie feeling to be standing in front of a structure as its being dismantled and broken down.  At the moment the weather has affected the work that has been happening at the site so the building sits idle as it waits for the final blows.


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