What do we keep and what do we cast out?
Susi Arnott and I have been working with a portable daylight studio on the Thames foreshore, to produce an almost indiscriminate catalogue of objects, many collected during Thames 21’s clean-up and research events.
Objects of disgust will be returned to the river or bagged-up for recycling into something acceptable. Historical or ‘artistic’ items may be collected and raised to a higher plane. Other items may be taken as evidence, or present a baffling amalgam of the living and dead, human and natural, toxic and benign.
The studio is designed to photograph the objects on the foreshore while they’re still trailing water and slime. They hover, privileged, above the tidal ground on which they have been found, poised between the museum and the mud.
Immersion in the tidal water causes objects to come adrift from their origins. Things we wish to go away, from religious offerings to wet-wipes, return with a sea change. Our habitual associations and connotations are often switched about. The ugly becomes beautiful, the deeply personal becomes public.