The waiting room is not like any room at home. It is not a destination, but is a temporary, transitional place that we pass through on the way to somewhere else. Nothing much happens in a waiting room, but it may be a noisy, busy place, with lots of comings and goings, or it can be eerily quiet. As a photographer, the ordinariness of the waiting rooms of my experience has long suggested a challenging picturing opportunity. With, perhaps, a faded landscape or floral picture on a wall, and a pile of worn magazines on a small table in a corner, what does someone who is sitting—their life, possibly, placed on hold while waiting for something to happen—look at while anxiously passing time in what can be an alien place? Someone sitting, waiting, may be experiencing emotions from calm to anxiety, dread or distress and unable to concentrate on reading an old fashion magazine or look at facebook.
Waiting room walls offer great picturing possibilities, from imagery specific to the type of waiting room, to pictures that can be placed in any kind of waiting room situation. Photographic images can be visually, intellectually or emotionally challenging—or not, and they can be gentle or energetic, detailed or broad and general, loud or soft, subtle, colourful, monochrome, descriptive and emotive. Photography is a versatile and complex picturing medium.
These photographs come from my archive of some forty years as a photographer. Some images were made with this project in mind (it has been some years in the making), others are images I just had to take at a particular time and place and fit this project, and some photographs come from other projects.
Photographs look like statements of fact. Through the technological camera, a photograph looks as if it accurately describes the world around. However, a photograph may not be what it seems, and despite appearing to be a transparent and uncomplicated image of something or someone, a photograph can be obscure and abstract. A photographic image can take on different meanings when accompanied by words, and take on other meanings without words. It can be expressive, visually complex and, despite photography’s apparent detailed mechanical and technical precision, quite opaque.
The waiting room is a place, a space between the past and the future. Photography is about time and place, and the photograph an image of a moment in time that also resides between the past and the future. – Catherine Rogers
11 February – 30 April 17
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