MONUMENTS TO STRANGERS
In this work I utilize news images and materially re-contextualize them to emphasize the limitations of photography as an emotionally and factually accurate record of the time. I combine analogue and digital processes to underscore the ways in which news photographs have been produced and how that production affects our understanding of cultural history. The photographs look at the selective representation of the individual within printed American daily newspapers from the 1880s to the1960s.
The figures in the blocks are unknown, but they were at one point important, or significant enough, to have their image produced in this way. The images are etched into copper or zinc, creating long lasting portraits that have proven permanence over time. I imagine the names of the figures, question what they were once important for, and explore the social context behind them. I don’t seek to make a document as they were used before, but to photograph them as visual monuments. Men are abundant; women are few and far between.The images pertain to births, graduations, professions, weddings and obituaries.Through these images a story begins to evolve of the major life events and rights of passage that people continually move through then and now.
An outdated process, today these blocks have no use.They have become antiquated, much like the newspapers that they were once printed in. I am photographing them to present this historic process and lost imagery in a new way, using the technologies that made them obsolete. Some images are photographs of the blocks that have been inverted to see a positive of the negative image, while others are direct prints from the blocks made onto sheets of color film.
The photographs are hung individually and in groups separated out by the depicted subject’s sex, age and race. Consequently, there are large groups of men printed smaller, and smaller groupings of women printed larger to point out their lack of representation, while also trying to reclaim their importance in history.
— Johanna Warwick
Johanna Warwick was born in Essex, England in 1983 before emigrating to Toronto, Canada as a child. She was raised there and is currently working and living in Baton Rouge, LA where she is Assistant Professor of Art & Photography at Louisiana State University. Johanna is a graduate of Massachusetts College of Art and Design with an MFA in photography 2010, and Ryerson University with a BFA in photography 2006. She has exhibited in New York, Toronto and other major cities across North America. Monuments to Strangers will be exhibited in a solo show summer of 2018 at Basin Arts in Lafayette, LA.