Part 3 – Project 3 Self-absented portraiture


Go to the artist’s website and look at the other images in Shafran’s series.

You may have noticed that Washing-up is the only piece of work in Part Three
created by a man. It is also the only one with no human figures in it, although family members are referred to in the captions.

Did it surprise you that this was taken by a man? Why?

I had observed earlier in part three of C & N that the images presented were all taken by women.

No it didn’t surprise me in the slightest that these photographs were taken by a man. I am married to a Chef, she uses every possible utensil in our kitchen when she cooks, so I feel the pain!  I want a dish washer. I am of the belief that it’s an outdated and other generation perspective that women do the washing up and men don’t.

In your opinion does gender contribute to the creation of an image?

Perhaps gender can affect the way you see things in the world around you but it’s just like a whole bunch of different factors and possibilities. Your background, cultural beliefs, political thoughts, sexuality, religious or non-religious beliefs, etc, etc. It’s a melting pot of different things, for me it’s not one isolated factor, that is unless you intentionally want to make it an important factor with in your work, its part of your message.

What does this series achieve by not including people?

I think the exclusion of people within the images, leaves the viewer open to interpret the lives of the people we are peering into, through the objects which are included within the frame. I question the relationship, if there is one, how many people live in this household? Are they a couple? Are they married? Why don’t they buy a dishwasher? My OCD inclinations want the dishes washed up and put away. So I guess in one way the images are creating tension for me.

The images do give you a sense of time and place. A meal is being created, or has taken place, shirts are being washed in the sink, the recurring placement of a paint brush, some images imply multiple people have had a meal whilst others suggest only one solitary diner.  There are suggestions of seasonal shifts in time throughout the images, through the different ‘props’.

Do you regard them as interesting ‘still life’ compositions?

No on the surface layer I think they are really very boring to be honest, it’s not really my cup of tea, I can’t say I’m that interested in them at all.

If I try to delve deeper to interpret the images I can draw some interest from them as an observer. I don’t find them visually or compositionally stunning or interesting, although they do use lines to lead the viewer through the image and the use of some bold colourful objects in a rather drab background. The blurb at the start of this exercise mentions captions to the photographs but I can’t see any captions on the photographers website accompanying the images when I looked, maybe that would have helped.

The interest for me comes from trying to understand the story behind the images and through the absence of people, use the objects placed within the images to pull that story together.


Nigel Shafran Website – ‘Washing Up’ Series


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