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Sport 30: Peter Black-Real Fiction

Preservation Act

Preservation Act

The photographer's art: the artist's photograph aswim in its chemicals … the blackened room where the photographic papers are laid out like beachtowels then hung up to dry … Photography is one of the processes ‘Reality’ has contrived to preserve itself. And, it follows that photographs are often thought of as acts of ‘preservation’—but what exactly is being preserved / retained / held onto? The interior / exterior of a condemned building or, as the case may be, an unspoiled landscape; a family, the social pattern at a certain point in history? The prevailing fashion? The Plight of the Worker? Might this art also be about the preservation of a sense of wonder? Then again, what is being preserved might be the mood of the photographer himself on the morning or afternoon in question?

Rather than being overtly autobiographical, Peter Black's photographs rely on the ‘unfathomably complex hedges of self-inscription’ David Bellos noted in the novels of Georges Perec. A series as seemingly objective as Peter's ‘Moving Pictures’ does in fact have a purposefully oblique personal design. These images were dedicated by the photographer to the memory of his father who ‘while estranged from the family still managed to take us on some great journeys’. So the pictures are infused with a sense of loss, gratitude, bewilderment, varying degrees of warmth and coolness. And, in the final frame, a figure carrying a suitcase in either hand, walking away from the photographer [p127].