Selected by Unseen Platform
Unseen Platform: How and when did you first realise that photography had an important creative place in your life?
Felicity Hammond: During my undergraduate studies, I was making installations and time-based work, and was very interested in the photograph as a document of those projects. But as I progressed through school, photography suddenly strayed from being the starting or end point of a work, and I started making mixed media pieces where the photograph played an important role. I became particularly interested in the rapid urban change that was taking place in London leading up to the Olympics, and I used photography to document the changes in my neighbourhood. However, I wanted these images to reflect the complexities of the built environment, and not just document them, so I began exploring how the photograph had a distinct relationship with the CGI that imagined the future of urban space. Photography felt like the perfect material to bridge the gap between the digital and built space, so I started working with it as a sculptural form.
Tell me about how that relationship to space. Do you envision a work’s final form before you start working in a given context, or does each piece and placement come to you as you are making it?
A lot of my work is responsive to site. It is often described as “site-specific,” but I sometimes think this definition is misplaced. Although site plays a major role in the production of my work (I often begin a project by photographing the place that it is referring to), the site I deal with is actually that of digital space – the future image of the urban terrain. First I document a site, and then I mine the digital imagery that refers to it. I work in a way that combines these worlds by collaging the materials and photographs that refer to them. The actual installation or end point of the work is often designed during the making process. I make drawings and use Sketchup, like a city planner does to visualise how the digital work might translate into physical space. The installation is never really the end result, but it becomes another material that leads to new works.
Since each installation is an experience, it also means that it must come to an end at some point. How do you feel when your work is de-installed? Do you consider it to be a necessary end, or do you have a more melancholy attachment to your work’s deconstruction?
I love destroying my work. For me, it holds the same significance as making it. The methods I use in my practice are reflective of the material city, and therefore the constant construction and deconstruction, re-forming, adapting and developing that is intrinsic to the production of urban space should also exist within the production of my work.
That being said, what do you want your audience to take away from a project like A Global Sense of Place, which will be on view at Unseen Amsterdam’s City Expo? Why do you want this project to be seen by others?
This project in particular includes images that are punctured by photographs taken in Amsterdam and London, alongside other cities that are considered to have a ‘global’ identity. Rather than the local solely rupturing or interrupting the global image, it also produces it. The local, the historical, and the image that came before all provide the backdrop and staging for the production of A Global Sense of Place. By situating these images throughout the city, taking on the appearance of advertisements, I hope that the audience reflects on the urban homogeneity that propels the identity of towns and cities all over the world. Can these two images operate in the same space? What are the tensions that are produced as a result? There is an opportunity to reflect on the way that this global identity might collide with a pre-existing image of the city.
Text by Cat Lachowskyj