Welcome to Postdivine Photography

Welcome to Postdivine Photography. I have chosen the postdivine as the embodiment of the feeling I have when I survey the status of photography today. Perhaps there is a feeling that the post-sacred nature of photography has in the diametrical sense become also post-profane.  If George Bataille could view the world of images now maybe he might like that description or maybe he would just be overwhelmed by the prolific nature of the image, his senses would not become ‘divine ecstasy and it’s opposite, extreme horror’ (1.) (Bataille.G. 1989, P206) which Bataille experienced when viewing an image he had become obsessed with, an image of Chinese torture hundred pieces (2). Imagine now another image of a horrible and brutal death that of Colonel Gadaffi who died on 20th October 2011.  Gadaffi was essentially hit by shrapnel from a bomb, stabbed with a bayonet and then attacked by rebels. He was shot in the head probably after he was already dead (3.). Why use this example?  After his torture and death people queued up to take his photograph on their mobile phones so that they had a trophy of his downfall. Here there was not one image but a plague of images until, like reading the Marquis De Sade, the litany just becomes nauseating.  

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Fig.1. Colonel Gadaffi Dead

This seems like an odd way to begin to discuss horror and ecstasy but the photograph since its invention has always been used to capture extreme moments, important moments in ordinary life, aesthetically pleasing objects and people, horrific scenes/crime scenes,  sex and the human body, everything in fact that a human being would want to freeze in a moment to keep until the end of time. This I would say at least used to be true...


1. Bataille G. (1989) Tears of Eros, City Lights Books. San Francisco

2. Ibid. The image was published by Dumas and Carpeaux in Traité de Psychologie (1923)

3. McElroy D. (17th October 2012) The Telegraph Online, Colonel Gaddafi died after being stabbed with bayonet, says report, [Online] Available: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/9613394/Colonel-Gaddafi-died-after-being-stabbed-with-bayonet-says-report.html (Accessed 17th September 2018)


Colin Wilson: Dreaming to Some Purpose

The Sock Factory

The Sock Factory images featured here were from a series of images that were related to a journey around the Leicester that Colin Wilson knew in the 1950s/60s.  For those unaware of the work of Colin Wilson he rose to fame after writing The Outsider whilst sleeping on Haywards Heath and going to the British Library every day to write the book.  However his earlier years were spent in Leicester and in his book Dreaming to Some Purpose.  As my family came from Leicester and Loughborough and I had come to Leicester to go to University I marked on the map all the places that Wilson had been and tried to find the exact locations with the intention of taking photographs along the way.  Wilson writes about the old factory buildings in Leicester and had worked in a wool processing factory.  The Sock Factory I was sitting outside taking pictures and the site manager let me in as it was dilapidated and it was about to be refurbished and designed (It is now The Makers Yard: Artist Studios).  I also took pictures of where I thought was nearby to Colin Wilson's attempted suicide.  This is the picture here: 

Site of Attempted Suicide (2010)

Site of Attempted Suicide (2010)

As it turned out four years later I would be working here as this site is now part of the De Montfort University campus and so I would be revisiting this site far more often than expected.  The attempted suicide helped Wilson to find meaning and to understand how to live, this led him to explore so many philosophers, writers, occultists and outsiders who all had found different ways to live and to find meaning.  I saw Colin Wilson in person at the Occultique festival in Brighton I think it was in 2003/4 and he really is a very charismatic man.  I did take a book with me in the hope I might get him to sign this, however the place was absolutely packed and I don't think I stood a chance with so many witches and pagans vying for his attention!  However absolutely amazing talk, I think my picture Positive Feedback tries to capture that optimism and moment of clarity that Wilson discusses when talking about Maslow and his healthy patients, I strive to be a healthier patient!

Jemima Stehli, Exhibitionism & Submission

WEARING SHOES CHOSEN BY THE CURATOR BY JEMIMA STEHLI  The work of Jemima Stehli is about looking, voyeurism, the male gaze, performance and exhibitionism. As an example the work ‘Wearing Shoes Chosen by the Curator’ Stehli lies in what looks like an almost empty car park on a concrete floor completely naked apart from the shoes. The space she occupies is actually,on closer inspection, an exhibition space. She has now become part of that exhibition by her presence in the space. The use of her own body as an exhibit (to be displayed and looked at) challenges the viewer/voyeur (as now the viewer is a voyeur and has become part of the performance) to not just glimpse but observe, take in, peruse this body, taking time over it as they would any other work of art in a gallery.    The viewer looks upon and making the nakedness less natural, more sexualised, they come to see the shoes and the title of the ‘piece’. The shoes have been chosen by the curator (the person in charge of the exhibits and their arrangement. The exhibit (the artist) is now something that belongs to the curator, there is a sense of the curator owning the work (or certainly in stewardship of it) therefore by placing the shoes on the artist and in this case a woman artist, he owns the woman. This of course presupposes the idea that the curator is a man which seems to be the intention of the artist to make the viewer think that it is a man by the use of placing high heeled shoes on a woman whose identity (which we have yet to discuss) is obscured.  In my own work I often use performance, exhibitionism, voyeurism and the male gaze. For instance in my work Valentine I placed myself under the kitchen sink and photographed myself in underwear my husband had bought for me every Valentine’s day since we had been married (none of which I had ever actually worn). These particular images were problematic in the sense that as I used my camera like a man, I became submissive in each image, my eyes looking down, never directly into the camera, my pose one of submission and servitude (the kitchen sink) so although there is an unhappiness in the images as my body is confined within the pipework under the sink (the pipework also has a female aspect as it had tubes and a womb-like shape in the underbelly of the sink) there is also no solution or perhaps resolution.   ...

WEARING SHOES CHOSEN BY THE CURATOR BY JEMIMA STEHLI

The work of Jemima Stehli is about looking, voyeurism, the male gaze, performance and exhibitionism. As an example the work ‘Wearing Shoes Chosen by the Curator’ Stehli lies in what looks like an almost empty car park on a concrete floor completely naked apart from the shoes. The space she occupies is actually,on closer inspection, an exhibition space. She has now become part of that exhibition by her presence in the space. The use of her own body as an exhibit (to be displayed and looked at) challenges the viewer/voyeur (as now the viewer is a voyeur and has become part of the performance) to not just glimpse but observe, take in, peruse this body, taking time over it as they would any other work of art in a gallery.


The viewer looks upon and making the nakedness less natural, more sexualised, they come to see the shoes and the title of the ‘piece’. The shoes have been chosen by the curator (the person in charge of the exhibits and their arrangement. The exhibit (the artist) is now something that belongs to the curator, there is a sense of the curator owning the work (or certainly in stewardship of it) therefore by placing the shoes on the artist and in this case a woman artist, he owns the woman. This of course presupposes the idea that the curator is a man which seems to be the intention of the artist to make the viewer think that it is a man by the use of placing high heeled shoes on a woman whose identity (which we have yet to discuss) is obscured.

In my own work I often use performance, exhibitionism, voyeurism and the male gaze. For instance in my work Valentine I placed myself under the kitchen sink and photographed myself in underwear my husband had bought for me every Valentine’s day since we had been married (none of which I had ever actually worn). These particular images were problematic in the sense that as I used my camera like a man, I became submissive in each image, my eyes looking down, never directly into the camera, my pose one of submission and servitude (the kitchen sink) so although there is an unhappiness in the images as my body is confined within the pipework under the sink (the pipework also has a female aspect as it had tubes and a womb-like shape in the underbelly of the sink) there is also no solution or perhaps resolution.

...

Zoe Van-de-Velde:  Valentine Year One

Zoe Van-de-Velde: Valentine Year One