Durga Rajah

I am Not the Artist, I am the Photographer: A Series of Conceptual Photo Retakes

I am Not the Artist, I am the Photographer: A Series of Conceptual Photo Retakes approaches the photographic aspect of Conceptual Art as a subject for repetition, remediation and re-presentation. In this work, I ‘remake’ the idea, or rather, ‘retake’ the photograph of the idea. The work takes the form of an installation consisting of 10 ‘retakes’ of iconic photographs, shot on medium format film and documented on video. I am not making any deliberate commentary on the original. I am just re-performing the ‘idea’ as it manifests in the natural flow of my thoughts. These fragmentary reenactments are held together by the setting and the scripting of the photoshoot. By presenting myself as ‘the photographer’ in these enactments, I insert my identity as a photographer and as a woman into the narrative of Conceptual Art.

In the installation of I am Not the Artist, I am the Photographer: A Series of Conceptual Photo Retakes, a set of 10 chromogenic prints are presented along with a video projection with its own ambient soundtrack as well a separate randomized spoken audio component -

1. Throwing three dice to get a sequence (Best in 3 minutes), in 1973, John Baldessari threw three balls in the air trying to photograph them in a straight line. He chose the best of 36 attempts, which is the number of shots in a roll of 35 mm film.

2. Perspective Creation, in 1969, Jan Dibbets cut a figure into the grass such that it appeared as a square on the surface plane of a photograph of the field.

3. Top of the Morning, in 1967, Bruce Nauman made a photograph of hands in the act of applying wax to the letters H, O and T, thereby performing the verbal expression of the work’s title.

4. Exposurepath, in 1967, Victor Burgin presented a row of photographs of the floor of the gallery. Each image was placed directly on the part of the floor it represented.

5. Durga, in 1970, William Wegman printed a photograph of a mechanic named John from a flipped negative. The only indication of this reversal was the inversion of the letters of his name tag.

6. The Fourth Chair, in 1965, Joseph Kosuth presented a chair, a photograph of the chair and a dictionary definition of the word ‘chair.’ He inferred yet another chair in the title of the work.

7. My Unwanted Clothes, in 1970, Bas Jan Ader made a photograph that showed what was purportedly all of his clothes, spread out on the roof of his bungalow.

8. Writing Position for Dermatographia, in 1970, Denis Oppenheim laid outdoors with a book on his chest, allowing the sun to burn a distinct tan line. He took before and after photographs.

9. A Line Made by Walking in Wet Socks, in 1967, Richard Long walked back and forth in a straight line across an open field such that his walking left a visible impression in the grass. He took a photograph.

10. Mi Silueta, between 1973 and 1978, Ana Mendieta made a silhouette of her body on the ground out of natural materials. She took a photograph.