Sunday, 21 October 2012




Katy Grannan considers her pictures to be portraits. By so doing she breaks a few rules. Portraits are usually of people with names, who  in the past had status by being high-born or affluent or statesmen or clergy, or  had for some reason or another become what we would now call celebrities. They were  portraits of individuals, often dressed and framed against a carefully chosen background, sitting ot standing in a pose which spoke volumes to the viewer about their life style and circumstances. They might also  have around them animals (perhaps a horse or dogs) and artefacts such as an artist's paint brush, a queen's crown, an explorer's compass, a scientist's glass flask, a writer's quill or pen.

Anonymous  is very different. The subject is nameless and set against a background which is stripped of any clue as to when and where the photograph was taken The narrative, the back story, is not shown in symbols or artefacts but is in the face.. Her portraits - strangely private - suggest a rich history of victories and defeats which we shall never discover.

The subtitle gives us a little more information: San Francisco, Boulevard 4, 2009, printed 2011. So we know it's a form of street art and the catalogue tells us that all Grannan's subjects agreed to be photographed.  The impact of her  work comes from seeing a roomful of 'prideful individuality among human beings', .. 'Caught in the blinding glare of the Californian sun, the figures stand , shift, turn, look away - resigned to the next throw of the dice while not holding our much hope that it will go their way'.

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