‘I suppose you will be getting away pretty soon, now Full Term is over, Professor,’ said a person not in the story to the Professor of Ontography…
This is the first sentence of the story ‘O whistle and I’ll come to you my lad‘, if you don’t know it, I cannot recommend it too highly. Though it is somewhere in the murky area of ghost and horror fiction, not of the grand guignol school, but of the creepy unnerving type that lurks about in the dark corners of your room after you have read the final word, so forewarned is forearmed.
That sentence is a good way into the work I do and the way I feel about using photography to make it. I see no reason to conceal the process or even the reasoning, in fact I think in showing my working I’m not really handing anything over because the end product is something that you are supposed to look at, preferably for more than a moment.
This work was made in response to Cal Garbat, one of the the disused fabric factories that dominate the village of Vilassar De Dalt near Barcelona. I was invited as part of an artists exchange for the Revela-T festival in 2016. Cal Garbat is only one of the many factories that dominate the landscape in the region that were built in the 19thC . The industry collapsed after WW1 and after this time, they were sporadically used and maintained decaying down from beautiful, expensive complex fabrics finally to producing screen printed t-shirts with glib and smutty slogans for people on package holidays, like a cotton based version of Basinski’s disintegration loops .
It was a hipster’s wet dream of a place: cavernous rooms, broken windows, great clots of dust, sudden outbursts of well crafted graffiti, broken glass crunching underfoot, peeling paint, peeling wallpaper and on the top floor, room after room filled with the abandoned working of the screen printer’s art. So sudden was this exit, that hundreds of screens, piles of cloth offcuts, orders, papers, invoices were scattered across the top floor.
I chose a room with a large empty window not least because it had a constant air current that kept the dust at bay. Then I set to work. Initially I thought to construct a gallery of ironic art. I hung the screens as if they were paintings, flat on the walls. I used empty printing ink barrels as stands for sculptures made of random crud on the floor. It all started to look at bit like a committee was designing a place for people to drink coffee and stare at their tech in it’s winking archness. I got bored with that very quickly and started to cast about for something else to make the space engaging for me rather than a specific demographic.
I chose to make ghosts and capture them not least because the state of space made it appear that the factory had been abruptly abandoned leaving hundreds of screens, piles of cloth offcuts, orders, papers, invoices scattered throughout the top floor almost as if the inhabitants had been spooked by the approach of an invading army, or something more sinister, like the bedsheets in the story.