Marjolaine Ryley was our first speaker of this evening, a Photographer and Senior Lecturer of Photography and Visual Arts here at the university.
Her Mum was Belgian and Marjolaine was brought up in London, living in legal squats or communes. She has had a very interesting upbringing, very rich with diverse social aspects and culture. Her research specialism is Creative and Cultural Practices, following on from her MA project looking into family photography and what it means. Marjolaine explained that there was a duality at the heart of her work.
Whilst I think that Marjolaine's photographs are good, I can't help but compare them to the many thousands of images identical to them on Instagram. What she spends a while composing can be done in seconds with the right filter. That doesn't completely devalue her work though. Marjolaine has familial themes and artistic integrity behind her pieces. She comments on the duality of both loving and loathing family. However all I kept thinking was how much her use of grids wasn't "unique" but again, exactly like Instagram's square photo layout.
After a fire in her Grandmother's apartment in Brussels in 2003, she started on a new body of work entitled Passage. In her own words it 'depicts the aftermath of a fire in my Grandmother's apartment in Brussels. Soot covers the usually comfortable domestic furnishings, while pictures that have been removed for cleaning leave traces of their presence. These are juxtaposed with images of the transient spaces one inhabits while waiting for news of a sick person: hospital waiting rooms, the houses of relatives and neighbours. The images explore the rupture that forms when the protective environment of home becomes a site for trauma.' This body of work is my favourite of hers, especially the image taken of the black spaces in the soot where books were during the fire.