Isabelle Evertse is an interesting photographer whose work touches a lot of notes. At one moment you feel a nostalgic longing for something that never was and the next wanting to dive head first into an African village that may or may not exist. These constructive narratives are something that l found interesting with her work and something I stride to be a quality of my own.
Evertse’s series, Thorny Hill, takes the initiative of informing the viewer that what they are seeing may or may not be real. This knowledge conflicts with what we are seeing though, a series of aesthetically traditional documentary imagery, and starts prompting the notion of what is real and what is not. But even this is a bit absurd; these images are real in the sense that these events happened, these people exist and while they may not all dwell within this created atmosphere, that atmosphere does in fact exist. So what may not be real about these images?
The validity of the narrative, the story of what we the viewer create through viewing the images verse what the photographer intended. While this may seem like a moot point of interest, I find this really interesting because our perception of images and how we read images is constantly changing. This change is in part because of the general distrust of what we find within our digital culture. When photo manipulation becomes so easy to do, this aesthetic type of imagery begins to hold a certain sense of validity and certainty to it. In blunt terms, this photo looks real so it must be. But why do we feel that way and what can photographers do with this?
I feel the product of all of this is the constructive narrative. While people like John Gossage set the foundation for the contemporary understanding of the constructive narrative back in 1985 with the publishing of, The Pound, the application to a documentary aesthetic is fairly new. Evertise’s work is an interesting blend between the old and the new understanding or application of this idea. While Evertise continues the path of a visual narrative, it alternatively becomes a personal reflection of a former life. The distance within the images from the subject matter help to keep the narrative loose and unbinding to a predestined path while the aesthetic helps to retain the series within the validity of ‘truth.’
The product is a constructed narrative that follows the line of a loose narrative that harps on a sense of remembrance and forgetting. An openness to interpretation though allows for the viewer to convey their own intentions and interpretation upon the work, truly forming a completed structure. The lasting effect is a series that can be revisited upon multiple times and a different story gained through each viewing. This to me is an essential element within storytelling and what really makes this series work, an application of function to aesthetically pleasing and interesting images.
You can see more of Isabelle Evertse’s work here. (The series, Burnish, and Come Night, are definitely worth your time)