Travel on many levels, including the most straightforward and ordinary, has been a consistent theme in my work, and My Trip is no exception. Taking a final form that loosely resembles a 'newspaper', which I placed in strategic newsagents as well as exhibited in galleries, it grew out of a car trip taken when I was in need of a holiday after a busy deadline. The idea to photograph everyone who spoke to me and to give them the camera to take a photograph of whatever they liked in return dropped into my mind from 'nowhere', but dovetailed right into my predisposition to consider 'life' and 'art' as one. I planned to sleep in the back of the car and set off with a map but no itinerary or set time away, trusting intuition to guide me well. Keen to get going and out of town, I realized I had no matches for the first night's campfire (in the late 70's one could more easily 'make camp' along the waysides) and as I stopped to get some matches from the first shop I saw, I realized I would have to 'start', as the shopkeeper was bound to say something. I was exhausted, so nearly dropped the whole idea (twigging results would have been out of the question), but I did begin, and was surprised how much I enjoyed the exchange.
The trip itself is very plain, but the variety of responses both in myself and in those I photographed bought out various levels of attitude to both photography and to a woman travelling alone, all indicative of the time. The variation was intriguing - some people were fascinated, some bored, some resistant, some avidly interested in the opportunity. One person thought they might 'break the camera' if they used it. Some wanted technical information, most did not - I let them decide. Once I visited 'art' friends and noticed the change of language and attitude around the use and fact of photography. Elsewhere several boys gathered around me and started to taunt and be oppressive but when I realized I had to explain what I was doing or give the whole concept away, and handed them the camera, the whole situation diffused. They became instantly interested and engaged and keen to have a go. The digital and mobile phone phenomenon has completely changed the domestic use of photography but it was not then a 'natural' part of people's lives.
While covering range within the focus of specific time and place (another consistent theme in my work given early exploration in this piece), My Trip also reveals my interest in the broad sweep of universals as they play out in the particular: I counted myself unbelievably lucky to have two small boys discuss how to take a photograph just as I was nearing home on the last day, the older brother saying to the younger: 'There's the button. And put your eye there. And when it looks right, press.' This summed up so much. If I am ruthlessly honest, I later sped past a shop I might otherwise have gone into for lunch, so as to make that image the last.
Micky Allan, 2012
Shown in 1 exhibition
My trip, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Sep 2014–07 Dec 2014
Referenced in 1 publication
Isobel Parker Philip, Look, 'Different journeys, different ways', pg 14-15, Sydney, Oct 2014, 15.
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