Remembering, We Forget: Aftermath I & II

Curator Sally Minogue from the exhibition catalogue: Photography was an art that found its moment in the First World War, the technology being sufficiently developed and inexpensive enough (given the circumstances) for even the most ordinary man to have his likeness taken before going to possible annihilation. [Douglas Dunn’s poem ‘Portrait Photograph’ (1915) has the soldier say] ‘I have lost my name / and my face’, so that the surviving image becomes especially potent. Such photographs have inspired current artists, as in K.J.Shepherdson’s work, re-figuring the frail flesh behind the fixed images of damaged faces of First World War soldiers, through her use of (already fragile) Polaroid lifts which she has then torn and frayed. The damaged face was one of the most difficult disfigurements for a surviving combatant to bear because of public responses of disgust and rejection, as well as the sufferer’s own deep loss of confidence and sense of identity. In facing Shepherdson’s photographs we take on a responsibility to face up to what modern warfare means.