CG Exercise 1.2: Re-create an Image

Brief:

Re-create a well-known image in any of the four genres you have explored. Consider the conventions, styles and themes specific to the genre and how the image you choose to re-create speaks to those. You are free to interpret re-creation as imaginatively as you like, subverting conventions or adhering to them.

Chosen Image

The image chosen was ‘Untitled’ (1991) by Cuban artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (FGT) (1957-1996). The photograph features FGT’s unmade bed with the indentations of the departed inhabitants – FGT and his long-term partner Ross Laycock, who had recently died of AIDS. The image is simultaneously FGT’s response to the death of Laycock and a political statement in support of the gay rights movement. Dr Thomas Folland suggests:

Gonzalez-Torres’ memorialization resonated especially during a time when Ronald Reagan (U.S. President from 1981 until 1989) notoriously never uttered the word ‘AIDS’ because of its predominant association with homosexuality.  Heads pressed onto pillows in the Untitled billboard thus becomes a simultaneous declaration and disavowal of same-sex love—writ large within an urban landscape. (1)

Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Untitled (1991)

My Response

I decided to give the image a modern twist whilst copying the original as accurately as possible. HIV/AIDS was one of the largest pandemics of the last century but sadly the current century has begun with its own pandemic – COVID. The image of my bed, showing just one inhabitant, is intended to metaphorically represent the isolation and loneliness created by government lockdown measures.

Ian Cocks. Untitled. (2022)

So which Genre is this?

  • Landscape?

During the 2016 ‘On Landscape Meeting of Minds Conference’, John Blakemore says of these images of his home, ‘Will we allow these as a sort of domestic landscape?… I think we should’. And David Bate suggests it could be fun to invent ‘scape’ names eg shoppingtrolley scapes, cupboard scapes and table scapes. As he says ‘photography has been massively influential in producing the vision of these different scapes as types of space, precisely through the pervasiveness of multiple types of what we simply call ‘landscape’ photography.’ (3). However, for this purpose, I will simplistically regard landscape as refering to outside the home.

Still Life

Bibliography

(1) Folland, D., 2015. Felix Gonzalez-Torres, ‘Untitled’ (billboard of an empty bed). Smarthistory, [online] Available at: <https://smarthistory.org/felix-gonzalez-torres-untitled-billboard-of-an-empty-bed/> [Accessed 14 February 2022].

(2) Blakemore, J., 2016. John Blakemore – On Landscape Meeting of Minds Conference 2016. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa8woJC-0lg> [Accessed 14 February 2022].

(3) BATE, D., 2019. PHOTOGRAPHY. 2nd ed. London: BLOOMSBURY VISUAL ARTS, pp.109-110.

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