Assistant curator Thomas Kennedy unpacks the stories behind three of Vanessa Winship’s photographs.
Imagined States and Desires: A Balkan Journey, 1999-2003
Winship’s photograph of a young boy riding a donkey indoors in her series Imagined States and Desires: A Balkan Journey is a fantastical yet poignant image, capturing the social and political situation in the Balkan states around the turn of the century. Behind the boy, two opposing declarations are scrawled onto the wall – ‘UČK’ or ‘Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës’ on one side, Albanian for the Kosovo Liberation Army, and on the other ‘СРБИ’ in Serbian Cyrillic with a Serbian Chetnik nationalist crest. By understanding these references it becomes clear that Winship’s photographs are an intimate investigation which subtly records the significant mark left by political turmoil on the land and people of the region.
Georgia: Seeds Carried by the Wind, 2008-2010
In Georgia: Seeds Carried by the Wind Winship presents a quadtypch (four photographs shown together) which depicts wall drawings and graffiti made by rural Georgian children. In one photograph, a list of family names is scribbled in Georgian script on the walls. In Georgian culture, family names are often associated with a specific geographical area, meaning that these names can be traced to a precise collection of villages in the north-western region of Georgia. The family names underscore the connection that generations of Georgians have to their landscape, forming an important part of the country’s heritage.
she dances on Jackson, 2011-2012
‘There is something exquisitely beautiful and yet profoundly disturbing about the United States of America, and the struggle in search of the American dream. Whilst I knew it to be a metonym, being sought everywhere in the world, I wondered what lay at its basis, perhaps an idea of opportunity and possibility. So my journey was twofold: one of my own search of that dream and also of the people I met along the way.
Like the small, barely audible ripple on the pond, this work is my note of that time.’ – Vanessa Winship
Georgia: Seeds Carried by the Wind, Untitled, 2008-2010. © Vanessa Winship
Imagined States and Desires: A Balkan Journey, Untitled, 1999-2003. © Vanessa Winship
she dances on Jackson, Untitled, 2011-2012. © Vanessa Winship