There are many ways of looking at a person’s life: photographs, anecdotes, stories, videos, film, objects collected and left behind.
I raise these questions because I want to refer to one of the most interesting photography books I have seen recently: In almost every picture #7.
It is very unusual. It reveals, in chronological order, how Ria van Dijk , from Holland, has for almost every year from 1936, gone to a fairground shooting gallery and taken a photo of herself – the camera taking a picture when her shot hits the target.
The progression- which excludes the war years ( a metaphor in itself) could be a most astonishing piece of performance art if performed by an established artist. It is, regardless, an astonishing example of personal biography and sheer fun. As the work progresses we not only see the changes in photographic style from a sepia style to black and white and colour ( it still seems that polaroids are used and not digital). The work shows fashion, the changing manner of people, Ria van Dijk as she ages, and obscure yet possible references to friends, children and the eventual growth of the work into a fan club and media event ( note the camera towards the end ) and of course the release of the body of work as a book, website, exhibition, etc.
What a fun and unusual way to represent one’s life. In this particularly limited form ( not family photos, etc) we still get to read Ria van Dijk’s life.
The work is now rare and nostalgic and has become an art event – the self consciousness of the event far different from the no doubt fun and private approach of the early years.
I raise this body of work because it is most unusual and could raise many interesting ideas in a training session. Participants could look at photos and report back. What other unusual ways could one choose to represent a life?
What a fun lady. Vale Ria.