For the fifth episode of The Decorating Dissidence Podcast, Hailey Maxwell, an Art Historian and writer from Glasgow, interviews photographers Gemma Dagger and Ellen Rogers about their respective practices and approaches to the medium. As Maxwell describes in her opening, both Gemma and Ellen are inheritors of a surrealist tradition, they conjure strange and unsettling worlds. Both artists have a sensibility, which is open to absurdity, humour, and social critique, yet distinctive approaches to how they depict their subjects – from the cameras they use, the settings they capture, to the materiality of the image itself.
“There’s something about the best kind of photographic unconscious that bleeds its way into the sorts of scenes that you both depict… [Your photographs are] about dressing up desire or legitimising desire in some sort of way – or masking it and making it appear through rituals or protocols – creating spaces that allow them to be exorcised in comfortable ways…”Hailey Maxwell
Host Bio: Hailey Maxwell is a Scottish writer and researcher specialising in myth, violence and desire in 20th century avant-garde art and literature. She is broadly interested in how power operates across political and cultural space. She works in various ways to enable individuals and communities to self-advocate and discover new ways of thinking and seeing.
Speaker Bio: Gemma Dagger is a photographer, curator and chef from Dumfries, Scotland. She studied MA Film and Moving Image Production at the Northern Film School (Leeds) and BA Photography at the University of the West of Scotland. Her work explores how the ‘intangible’ is made visible, looking at ritual from alternative perspectives to unearth unfamiliar narratives. Through a blurry combination of staged and ‘real’ imaginings, her photography reflects an ongoing fascination with the sacred places and occult practices connecting people and landscape. Her project ‘Maryhill Peoples Group’ explored collective consciousness and the human need for belief systems. It was exhibited at Street Level Photoworks and was published in the British Journal of Photography. In 2016 was she was awarded a commission by Fòcas and the British Arts Council, connecting 6 artists in Scotland and India. The resulting series ‘A Thin Place’ was exhibited in Glasgow, Lewis and Gandhinagar. She currently lives in Glasgow and is researching a project on the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in Scottish island communities.
Speaker Bio: Ellen Rogers creates all-analogue, emotional and accessible photography that is both careful and skilled, the work is hand-printed and often hand-painted. Ellen is most notedly a fashion photographer whose clients include Vogue, Vice, Tank, i-D, Alice Temperley and many more. Ellen has also created photoshoots for institutions such as the British Journal of Photography, the Ashmolean Museum and The Smithsonian. Her time is separated between making personal work, commercial work and lecturing on fashion photography at the Arts University Bournemouth. Ellen graduated from Goldsmiths College in 2007 and she is currently studying for her PhD at Central Saint Martins in London. Her practical and theoretical research revolves around melancholy in fashion photography.
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This Podcast series was produced by Decorating Dissidence with support from Queen Mary University of London Centre for Public Engagement. Leo Garbutt is our sound editor and music producer.