Time Archive examples – Photo Grids

There are countless examples of artists that have assembled images into a grid format. The form has the advantage of giving a viewer a container to look at many images at once. It also has the possibility of allowing multiple WAYS to view the images.

The arrangement of images is a curatorial decision; how do you arrange the images spatially? In relation to one another? How do their formal similarities or differences guide the way we understand relationships?

Seemingly disparate images can come together when the context is similar (in this case a hotel) and formal elements are similar (black and white)

Sophie Calle – The Hotel, Room 47 – 1981

“On Monday, February 16, 1981, I was hired as a temporary chambermaid for three weeks in a Venetian hotel. I was assigned twelve bedrooms on the fourth floor. In the course of my cleaning duties, I examined the personal belongings of the hotel guests and observed through details lives which remained unknown to me. On Friday, March 6, the job came to an end.” (Quoted in Calle, pp.140-1.)  TATE 

In this case the content is very similar, but they are differentiated by changes of shape and small shifts of light and dark.

 Bernd and Hilla Becher –  Stoneworks, 1982 – 1992

Hilla Becher was a German artist born in 1931 in Siegen, Germany. She was one half of a photography duo with her husband Bernd Becher. For forty years, they photographed industrial structures including water towers, coal bunkers, gas tanks and factories. Their work had a documentary style as their images were always taken in black and white. Their photographs never included people.

They exhibited their work in sets or typologies, grouping of several photographs of the same type of structure. The are well known for presenting their images in grid formations. TATE

Color can play an important role in how we move across the picture plane. What role does repetition play in this image?

Nan Goldin – empty rooms, berlin/hamburg 1983-1996

“Hotel rooms usually mark transitoriness and freedom from daily life, but they’re haunted by the many bodies that have passed through. The photographs are also haunted by her absent friends, some of whom have died and some of whom are far away. Temporary stations themselves, the empty rooms emphasize the inadequate hold anyone has on life, how it all just goes, finally.” NY Times

The connection between the elements can create groupings of content.

Gilbert and George – Cunt Scum 1977

Cunt Scum belongs to a series of twenty-six works known as The Dirty Words Pictures, which Gilbert and George created in 1977. They follow the format established in the preceding Red Morning series, to which Red Morning Trouble (Tate T07155) belongs. This consists of abutting photographic images mounted in narrow, black metal frames, arranged in a grid. Each work in the Dirty Words series is a composition made up of photographs the artists took of each other, obscene graffiti and east London street scenes. The graffiti words, from which the work’s title is derived, are placed at the top of the work. The artists have explained: ‘by putting the word along the top, then something vertical down both sides, it looked like a door. A door of hell. We found much of the grafitti in doorways … We became interested to know what makes a person do that.’  TATE

The placement of elements can direct our attention and create  juxtapositions that suggest, movement, changes in time or even a sequential story.

Wolfgang Tillmans – Concorde Grid 1997

From Tillmans: “Concorde is perhaps the last example of a techno-utopian invention from the sixties still to be operating and fully functioning today. Its futuristic shape, speed and ear-numbing thunder grabs people’s imagination today as much as it did when it first took off in 1969. It’s an environmental nightmare conceived in 1962 when technology and progress was the answer to everything and the sky was no longer a limit … For the chosen few, flying Concorde is apparently a glamorous but cramped and slightly boring routine whilst to watch it in the air, landing or taking-off is a strange and free spectacle, a super modern anachronism and an image of the desire to overcome time and distance through technology.” – TATE

Notice how small color accents draw our attention to similar units in the grid. The same is true for similar internal structures within the various images.

Zoe Leonard – Analogue detail. 1998-2007

“A project comprising 412 photographs conceived over the course of a decade. Displayed in serial grids and organized into 25 chapters, Analogue documents the eclipsed texture of 20th-century urban life as seen in vanishing mom-and-pop stores and the simultaneous emergence of the global rag trade. Leonard took her own New York neighborhood, Manhattan’s Lower East Side, as a point of departure in the late 1990s. She then followed the circulation of recycled merchandise—used clothing, discarded advertisements, and the old technology of Kodak camera shops—to far-flung markets in Africa, Eastern Europe, Cuba, Mexico, and the Middle East.” – MOMA

Repetition, or the use of similar elements can direct the way that we look at an image. 

David Hockney – Gregory Swimming

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