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Artist As An Archive

This past March, I had the pleasure of seeing the then-current exhibition at the photography museum Fotografiska, Frank Ockenfels 3: Introspection. Ockenfels, or as he refers to himself, fwo3, is a celebrity photographer and artist, who Fotografiska says “approaches his subjects with playfulness and spontaneity and uses what is available in the moment” and uses his photography in a collage-like manner “ to stretch the limits of what a photograph or artwork can be.” What struck me the most was his collections of journals, where he combined these photographs, their outtakes, paint, and some personal writing to create a piece that blurred the line between artwork and personal reflection. With photography I could only dream of creating, the finished work reminded me of the material I was working on with Belén.

Image: A selection of fwo3's work. On the left, we see some outtakes of shots of Brad Pit, juxtaposed with a collage of a photo with paint. These two opposite works question what can be seen as a work. Does the personal approach to something count as an artwork?

I’ve previously discussed working with Belén’s journals, and how, at times, they feel like they are their own piece of work. Her approach to personal documentation is also collage-like, such as having inspiration images stapled or taped in between writings about the piece she is working on. This three-dimensional element helps place the reader in her visual world, often making sense of what is written, or where the work is going. However, Belén differs from fwo3, as she doesn’t see her journals as works, often reiterating that they are only interesting to her. While my disagreement did get her to agree to a selection of journal pages to be captured in the project, we both agreed that her process in journaling is her own personal archive. One could argue that her archive is then used in return to help formulate the work.

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