Tuesday 23 December 2008

Mark Burden

All images ©Mark Burden

Thanks to Mark Burden for sending me some images from a series he has been working on called The Sitting. Here is what he has to say about it:

"The Sitting operates at the confluence of the oft-conflicting desires, and the gazes of the camera, the spectator and the subject, interrogating the portrait as being analogous of a screen. In most cases the screen is seen as protective, or it is used to obscure and conceal, at its most opaque the portrait separates by a process of exclusion, the camera’s scrutiny eliciting a self-conscious projection to deflect its gaze - what Lacan termed the ‘Mask’- the projection of a second skin employed to deflect the gaze of other(s) acting as a surface onto which the image and the power of the gaze are deflected or are reflected mirror like. But the screen can be translucent too allowing glimpses - if only for the briefest of times - that hint at what may be beneath and beyond, moments when that protective layer slips or is not consciously in play. The Sitting explores this psychological space within the portrait, and the notion of the photographer’s and the medium’s ability to pierce the causal representation of that which sits within it. If the screen is the mediation of its relational structure, can the screen be pierced, can a glimpse be elicited of what lays beyond?"

"The series takes as its subject those practised in the projection of the mask: fighters, specifically cage fighters for whom the mask is a shield of intimidation, invincibility and is devoid of emotion, the nature of their combat though, drains them both mentally and physically. The camera acts as a barrier visually and mentally, a screen divorcing contact and interaction between the photographer and the sitter, the images document moments that are temporally random and un-decisive, the absence of interaction leaving the exhausted sitter isolated. By eschewing the intimacy and mediation conventionally associated with the portrait the images explore the visual psychological states in unconscious compositions that dislodge and disarm the surface before the scrutiny of the camera. The resulting portraits reveal not the conscious projection of an identity but a space between that and their unconscious; the isolated figures are seen in liminal moments characterized by ambiguity, openness, and indeterminacy."