Thrice Upon a Time featured in American Photo
Text by Lori Fredrickson
While darkroom experimentation is largely a thing of the past, the longing to connect with a physical aspect of picture- making remains, especially for photographers working with natural subjects. Their resulting photos broaden the exploration of elemental phenomena, and engage more personal ties to land, material, and memory.
Mum #4 (Right Foot), 2012 © Odette England
For Australia-based Odette England’s project Thrice Upon a Time, working with the material of the landscape was literally tied to the land itself. England focused on the terrain of her childhood home, a 200-acre farm in the small settlement of Ponde in South Australia, by a two-step process: a 2005 journey (before conceiving the project) to capture the location on film, and a 2010 return by her parents, who re-trod the area with the processed negatives attached to the soles of their shoes.
For England, the concept of having the film “work the land” related to how her parents physically worked the land when she was a child, before the threat of financial troubles forced her family to leave in 1989. “Living on a farm not only ties you to a specific economy, but also to seasonal rhythms,” she says. “The farm has changed hands four or five times since then, and with each passing year and new owner, I can’t help but feel that the farm dies a small death.”
Ultimately, she says, photographing the farm wouldn’t have made sense without a material connection—what had been lacking in her memory was that physical relationship. “It was an urgent thing to understand this particular patch of dirt,” England says. “It was the material that made me.”
Read the full article HERE.