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Early career

As if to underline how radically her views diverged from purist approaches, Redgate’s first major body of work was comprised of photographs that were not taken by her.

That series, titled photographer unknown… 1980-83, showed ordinary, black-and-white snapshots taken in London which the artist found in her family archive. Enlarged from negatives and framed for museum display, these images responded to the international trends prevalent in contemporary art such as the appropriation techniques of American artists like Sherrie Levine, while harking back to Marcel Duchamp. Here, we see the artist not necessarily creating but rather selecting, placing and pointing out the subject of interest.

Redgate has continued to explore the creative potential of vernacular and appropriated photography in works such as her 2000 series Untitled day – including London c1965 and London c1970, which form part of this exhibition.

Issue for consideration

  • Find images from the early series photographer unknown, made between 1980 and 1983. The images were sourced from found negatives of old family photographs. How does Redgate alter these images to position them within an art gallery context? Think about scale, framing and attribution. Consider the title and the way these images were made. Who is the author of the work? Does the act of selection and relocation constitute an act of authorship? Debate these ideas in class.
  • Examine London c1965 and London c1970, from the 2000 series Untitled day in light of your discussion. These works, included in the exhibition, were created almost 20 years after photographer unknown. Identify similarities to and differences from the earlier series. Consider reasons why an artist may revisit earlier ideas through new work. Do you think the later series adds anything new? Outline your position, verbally or in writing.