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Category: Research

What Artists Wear

Lately I have been trying to broaden my research by studying other creative practitioners and the way they work, in order to gain a wider insight into factors that may effect they’re creative process and practice. The book What Artist Wear by fashion journalist Charlie Porter is a thought written novel evaluating how art is made and the ‘relationship between and autonomy, freedom and power’, stated by novelist and cultural critic, Olivia Laing.

The book investigates not only the art, but the artists themselves; by providing background knowledge and historic photographs of artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Yves Klein; Charlie Porter conctextualises the art they produced and what they wore during the process whilst analysing how this may have effected the outcome.

The novel highly corresponds to my Final Major Projects concept: The Performative Aspect, as it maintains a key focus on the actions of the artists, studying them as if they were performer themselves. Charlie Porter’s journalistic approach simplifies fashion analysis in a brilliantly eye-opening way. Through out the novel there is a multitude of documentary photography, cataloguing artists as a muse. This is something that links heavily to my project and has helped me expand my perception of documentary photography.

The process of photographing artists as though they are a performer moves documentary photography from Street Casting to being more purposeful. Within my own work I aim to change an audiences perception of what people see as a traditional Performance to viewing the actions of humans as a performance; much like the photographs of the artists featured in What Artist Wear. I think by taking a journalistic approach to my Project, inspired by Charlie Porter, it will help contextualise my creative working, making my concept clearer to my target audience.



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Networking and Connectivity

Connecting with other creatives within the industry has really helped with the completion of my Final Major Project and my own personal projects. Attending events for work purposes has really benefitted my practice, I have made many creative connections and have been given opportunities I am extremely grateful for. The exposure my work has received is the outcome of networking at creative events that I felt contributed to my practice. After realising DJ Van Wilkins had a used a film photo of mine for promotional purposes, I was encouraged to create a creative social media account in order for other people in the industry to contact me for work – bymobbs – which can be found linked to the instagram icon. I have received some amazing opportunities, that have helped build more performative content for my project, and others I can use in my portfolio.  

After being asked if I would take photos at his next event, I made sure to capture other artists I thought would need promotional footage that I could benefit from. This allowed me to observe a variation of musical performances, expanding upon my primary research and documentation of performers in the industry. Here are some images of creative artists in the industry using my documentary photography for self promotion.



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Creative CV

Thinking about the aspects of a cv that represent you as a brand, with the key focus on; keeping it consistent, making it attractive to the employer and maintaining simplicity.

Focusing on colour and photography style, purposefully selected work that replicated my style of photography: simple editorials with strong use of coloured lighting and candid film photography. I find myself being attracted to a Parisian style of street photography with a clear narrative and editorials that are minimalistic and emotive; enhanced by good lighting. The colours selected are cohesive yet a blend of bold and neutral. It illustrates the style I wish to portray in my Final Major Project with a an atmospheric collective outcome.

Creative CV Experimentation, Final outcome as a scan.
The making process, using glue, scissors and A3 paper.
The making process, using glue, scissors and A3 paper.
Final outcome, consisting of simplistic imagery and bold colours.
Photography that best replicates film photography, similar to my work.
Selected facial imager, emotive and a neutral colour palette.
Example of a good use of lighting and block colours to illustrate my style of zine layout.
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America in Crisis Photography Exhibition

My projects focus on ‘The Performative Aspect’ of fashion and documentary photography allowed me to direct my research more specifically towards practitioners who’s outcomes held a strong purpose such as to educate, entertain and document. As primary research, I attended the America in Crisis Exhibition organised by the Saatchi Gallery in London with the intention of collecting inspiration and examples of variation of physical outcomes. ‘The Performative Aspect’ of my project allowed me to gain a different perception of the images presented in the exhibition, as I wanted to correlate it to the ‘Performance of Livelihood’ section of my magazine; a section focusing on how people’s rituals and practice is a performance within itself in an attempt to understand the purpose of ones actions.

Fig1: Emily Mobbs, America in Crisis exhibition taken on 35mm Film, 9 Feb 2022, SAATCHI GALLERY, London.

The America in Crisis Exhibition consisted of 40 leading American Photographers and over 120 works exploring social change in the U.S from the 1960s to the present day. The purpose of America in Crisis was to assess the state of the nation and was conceived in 1969; since then the project has been known as a “ground breaking group initiative”. It exhibits a collection of photographers work, from the 1669 Magnum Photo Project and new work created five decades later, creating a dialogue of how America and creative perceptions of events have evolved. The exhibition of  ‘great social, political and cultural change’ contextualises key historic events in the U.S in a diverse and contemporary way.

“America in Crisis,” Saatchi Gallery, London, Saatchi Gallery, 21, Jan, 2022.

Fig 2: Emily Mobbs, America in Crisis exhibition taken on iPhone 13 Pro on 0.5 Lens, 9 Feb, 2022, SAATCHI GALLERY, London.
Fig 3: Emily Mobbs, America in Crisis exhibition taken on iPhone 13 Pro on 0.5 Lens, 9 Feb, 2022, SAATCHI GALLERY, London.

In my sketchbook I aim to elaborate more specifically on the photographers I was most attracted to in the exhibition and how they correlated to performance. Through out my project I have continued to expand on the definition of performance, in attempt to pull away from the idea that it connotes a theatrical response.

The photographers exhibited within the America in Crisis exhibition are all documentative, including a variation of photos encapsulating the livelihood of America. For me this was inspiring, and showed how the simple scenes and situations captured conveyed the most powerful messages. It was a form of natural performance; performance of life.

Fig 4: Kris Graves, Photographs describing how protestors dismembered and painted over statues to cover up America’s white supremacist past, 2020, Lee Square, Richmond, Virginia.
Fig 5: Eve Arnold, Cutting apples and baking pies for supper, 1958, Miller Place, Long Island, New York.
Charles Harbutt, Riverdale Balcony, 1968, Upper Manhattan, New York.

These were a few of the images that really stood out to me due to several factors such as perception and simplicity. The lack of need for choreography simplifies the photography, however enhances the authenticity of the photos. Unlike most documentary photography, I was very attracted to pieces where the people were acknowledging the camera whilst appearing unfazed; it enlightens the shots and captures expression without being disruptive. Photographing a natural setting can often change the mannerisms of ones projects, resulting in a less candid shot, however photographers such as Eve Arnold and Charles Harbutt are exceptional at finding the balance. The photos show livelihood and comfortability, something I want to be able to capture within my photos. My aim is to capture the authenticity of my what was happening when I took the photos within the Performance of Livelihood section of my magazine, maintaining a key focus on the performers and an audience reaction, depending the setting.

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Iain McKell Research and Response

In response to Iain McKell’s Sub Culture, I used my own film camera and documented today’s youth culture using black and white film to replicate McKell’s photographs. The photos show the similarities between the subcultures today and in the 1980s. McKell succeeds at capturing the raw, realism of the subcultures and the edge to fashion it inspired. After the development of the Punk era by Vivienne Westwood the ‘Skinhead’ culture was very much idealised and glamourised by the industry. The culture was highly commercialised by fashion brands due the rise in popularity after the discovery of McLaren and Westwood, which removed the patriotic meaning of the culture; which Iain McKell manages to capture in his ‘Sub Culture’ editorial.

Iain McKell, Sub Culture, 1980
Emily Mobbs, Response to Iain McKell, Brighton, England, 2021

Within my own research looking at the performative aspects of fashion, I started to study the performative aspects of livelihood; documenting people and their actions and what they wear whilst living their day to day lives. I attempted to mainly document the creative aspects of people’s lives which ended up consisting of curators such as musicians and tattoo artists. The hybrid of capturing these types of people and black and white film automatically added a raw edge to the my photography.

Iain McKell, Sub Culture, 1980
Emily Mobbs, Response to Iain McKell, Brighton, England, 2021    

Experimenting with documentary photography is an exploration of the boundary between capturing livelihood and exploiting people’s personal lifestyle. Sometimes when shooting strangers on the street I would ask if it was okay to take a photo or I would capture them from the back. The only issue with asking people for their photo is that they become more self aware which adds an awkwardness to the shot and doesn’t allow you to capture the candidness of the person or event.

Iain McKell, Sub Cultures, 1980
Emily Mobbs, Response to Iain McKell, Brighton, England, 2021
Iain McKell, Sub Culture, 1980
Emily Mobbs, Response to Iain McKell, Brighton, England, 2021
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Performative Spaces

Over the past few weeks I have accumulated a series of unedited images inspired by the work of photographer Jason Oddy. Oddy succeeds at capturing structural solidity and provoking emotions through the use of empty space. It expanded my research from the performance of human interaction to objects. I was fascinated by his minimalistic style and attempted to encapsulate it in my response to his photos. The next few photos presented are images taken by Jason Oddy followed by my response to the photos, by adapting and using the building I’m surrounded by in everyday life. My own images are currently unedited, as I hope to correlate them to Oddy’s work my precisely through post production in my sketchbook.

Jason Oddy, ‘The Village’ VI, Houari Boumediene University of Science and Technology, Bab Ezzouar, Algiers, 2013
Emily Mobbs, Back of Waterstones, Brigthon, England, 2021

Using Jason Oddy’s work as inspiration encouraged me to view my surroundings as more structural and I found myself hunting for the geometrics within buildings. It was a very mathematical form of photography and differed from human photography; it felt performative as I would look for spaces that I thought were emotive and carried a form of satisfaction, through the use of symmetry and shapes.

Jason Oddy, Neue Prora, Rügan Island, Germany, 2000
Emily Mobbs, Pelicanos, Brighton, England, 2021
Jason Oddy, Palace of Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, 1999
Emily Mobbs, East Street, Brighton, England, 2021

I continued my experimentation on a trip to London and was able to elaborate on my response to Jason Oddy’s work as I was surround my a lot more extreme and large architecture. I found myself taking photos mainly of hallways and my perception of them was like a never ending hall of emptiness. I think empty was definitely the word I highlighted throughout this response as the meaning of the word duplicated from physical to emotive.

Jason Oddy, Corridor I, Mentouri University, Constantine, Algeria, 2013
Emily Mobbs, St Pancras Station, London, England, 2021
Jason Oddy, The Palace of Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, 1999
Emily Mobbs, St Pancras Station, London, England 2021
Jason Oddy, Magnolia, Prophylactorium, Odessa, Ukraine, 1999
Emily Mobbs, Victoria line, London, England, 2021
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