Virginia Heckert, Associate Curator, J. Paul Getty Museum

Juror Statement

First Place:

Odette England

Honorable Mention:

PROJECT LAUNCH : juror statement

JUROR VIRGINIA HECKERT, Associate Curator, J. Paul Getty Museum

It has been a pleasure and honor to serve as the juror for Project Launch, with its abundance of worthy submissions seeking support towards the completion of the projects presented. It is not an easy task to review several hundred submissions, taking into consideration not just the images, but the statements as well. What struck me was the great number of projects that use photography to describe a sense of place and the range of motivations that inspire these efforts - documentation, reform, personal exploration, etc. The most successful submissions demonstrated a degree of nuance or sophistication that derives from a deep engagement with the subject. Whether presenting themes that are geographically specific or personally meaningful, all twenty of the submissions that advanced to the final round are infused with a sensibility that enables them to achieve a universal relevance, while also rewarding the viewer with a sense of discovery in the process. Selecting a final winning project was particularly challenging.

First place: I kept returning to Odette England's Thrice Upon a Time for the story it tells about the loss of a family farm, and Ms. England's poignant effort to reclaim that loss by engaging her parents in the performative act of attaching negatives of the farm that she had taken previously to the soles of their shoes as they return to the site on a regular basis and walk the land that they once owned. The images derived from the battered and frayed negatives make tangible the anguish and grief the photographer wishes to convey.

Honorable Mention: There is something immediately familiar about the sites that Yiorgos Kordakis has photographed for his 10,000 American Movies project, a familiarity that is at once distanced because, like Mr. Kordakis before embarking on his project, most of us "know" these sites only through the vicarious experience of seeing them in movies. His use of instant Polaroid film reinforces this dichotomy of immediacy and distance, introducing the element of time to that of place.

Honorable Mention: Donna Wan's In the Landscape project successfully borrows a tradition from landscape painting, that of 19th-century Romantic painters' introduction of a figure seen from behind to lead the viewer into the scene, to depict a wide range of vacation and leisure destinations. Elevated vantage points and less-than-ideal lighting conditions introduce distancing elements that underscore the investigative nature of her observation of individuals interacting with the landscape.

Congratulations to the winners and to all who participated in Project Launch.


First Place: Odette England

Artist Statement: Thrice Upon A Time

Mum #1, from the series 'Thrice Upon A Time' 

Dad #1, from the series 'Thrice Upon A Time' 

Mum #2, from the series 'Thrice Upon A Time' 

Dad #4, from the series 'Thrice Upon A Time' 

Mum #3, from the series 'Thrice Upon A Time' 

Dad #3, from the series 'Thrice Upon A Time' 

Mum #4, from the series 'Thrice Upon A Time' 

Dad #2, from the series 'Thrice Upon A Time' 

Thrice Upon A Time

Thrice Upon A Time is a performative 'homecoming' in collaboration with my parents. Under my parents direction, they revisit the dairy farm in South Australia they loved and lost (owing to potential bankruptcy) every month for one year, wearing on the soles of their shoes a selection of negatives I made at the farm in 2005: negatives that depict places where my parents took family snapshots of me as a child. The severely damaged negatives are then sent to me for redevelopment. Thrice Upon A Time is thus a movement of reclamation. Since I cannot work the land farm with my hands, I work it through the tread of my parents. The motivation for this work stems from a longing of an idealized version of place. I am simultaneously remembering, depicting, and fabricating a fantasy. My parents' repetitive, ritualistic motion makes the photographs look as if they were found rotting in the eaves of the farm's roof, grieving for their owner. The black holes and chasms in the negatives become breaks in reality: they mythologize a holy land, an inheritance that I am owed.

The project requires ongoing repeat visits to the farm, to produce a sufficient quantity of damaged negatives that allow for seasonal and weather-based changes. Some negatives are so cracked and battered, they need to be pieced back together with tweezers; other times, they remain intact. The funds will be used towards processing, developing and printing further works for the series: making heavily textured, near-fatal prints that highlight brief moments between a foot touching the ground and being lifted for the next step, giving brief pause before pain.