Ethan Murphy

What’s Left and What’s Gathered, 2018

What’s Left and What’s Gathered is an exchange between my father and I that explores my relationship with identity and loss through collaboration with the absent body. This photographic series examines a conversation between us ten years after his death by visualizing various strategies that create a dialogue between us. I am interested in the way loss can lead to creativity and resilience over time. The series operates around two central questions; What is left physically to observe that informs the way you think about a person? How does the gathering of objects, ideas, and values impact your perception of them?

The photographs were made in Newfoundland, mainly at a cabin he purchased and left to my sister and I. The structure has always been a place for potential and creativity, photographing there has encouraged me to collaborate in the space that was intended for growth. Newfoundland’s rural environment has served as a sense of place for us both and returning there to photograph is also a return to my father. I have acquired many of his possessions over ten years including his writing, mainly poetry from which I have excerpted and used as image titles. The recontextualized relationship between text and image connects us as artists since he did not know me as a photographer nor did I know him as a creative writer and in this work we can coexist.

I am interested in what common ground looks like between us, the way that it is dynamic and manifests in multiple forms. By situating various image making strategies in this body of work, including still life, self-portraiture and photographing in places that are important to us both they collectively suggest that coping with loss is multifaceted and ongoing.