Research notes – KayLynn Deveney

The following observations have been made after looking at the work The Daily Life of Albert Hastings, by KayLynn Deveney.

The first think that I found interesting about Deveney’s work is that she focuses on seemingly unimportant objects and situations, in the context of home life. I also feel the need to photograph these things, albeit not only in the context of the home, but also in the street (abandoned flowers, leaves, cigarette butts, coffee cups, etc), but why? I have not been able to determine it yet, but I believe Deveney provides a clue when she mentions that she photographs “…experiences not usually considered significant enough to warrant a snapshot” (1). This to me relates to the idea of “invisibility”: those who are left behind or ignored by their acquaintances or by the social system in general. It may also be a response against the general human process of synthesizing and distilling information into what is relevant. I have at times related to these ideas, but some other times I wonder if it just a quest for details that will lead nowhere. I hope the reason is there somewhere for me to eventually find out.

The second aspect of this work that I found intriguing is that it is very much a collaboration with the subject, I would say even a frank dialogue on equal footing. This is different from the collaboration in Sophy Rickett’s Objects in the Field, which I have discussed elsewhere (link), where the artist was somehow mediating between the “collaborator” and the art work, and perhaps akin to the collaboration seen in Sophie Calle’s Take Care of Yourself (link to my comments), as Calle would tend to somehow insert her own images alongside the input from the various collaborators (eg an allegoric picture), making it appear as complementary to the input. In The Daily Life of Albert Hastings, the subject of the series, Mr Hastings, has a direct input on the work (by way of his captions to Deveney’s images, and his opinions and ideas somehow shaped the which Deveney approached the work. In some occasions, as she would say, the captions “…created a new context…” for the photographs, while “… adding a critical second perspective to this work.” (1).

In the end, because the way it evolved, Deveney’s work does not seem to be simply about chronicling the life of somebody, but more about relationships, and how the best ones are those in which both parts have a chance to contribute and enrich each other.

The images in the series are warm and inviting. Deveney plays with the exposure, with some images being dark on purpose (particularly some of the indoor shots like this one and this other one). These images, rather than being sinister, reinforce a feeling of homeliness which suits the overall theme of the series. I like the way Deveney uses props to frame her subject or convey a feeling. The overall impression I have from looking at these pictures is that of a stable, organized, and even somewhat proud living, but one which is very lonely and just mended together, which I believe is perfectly summed up by the daffodil in a cup picture (link)

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(1) KayLynn Deveney Photographer. 2017. The Day to Day Life of Albert Hastings — KayLynn Deveney Photographer. [ONLINE] Available at: https://kaylynndeveney.com/the-day-to-day-life-of-albert-hastings. [Accessed 29 October 2017].

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