The day-to-day life of Albert Hastings: KayLynn Deveney

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Morris, 2018. 29.09.14 from Jo-Ana

KayLynn Deveney’s The day-to-day life of Albert Hastings skilfully combines image and text to provide a narrative on the aging process.

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Deveney, 2018. Wind broken daffodil from The day-to-day life of Albert Hastings

Deveney, whose doctorate focused on the way in which contemporary and historical diaries and self-books address myths of domesticity, began the project after regular walks past Albert Hastings’ rented flat led to friendship.

As her photography has developed, Deveney informs us, her focus has increasingly been on our ideas of home.

‘I often seek in my photographs the banal moments of the day—the experiences not usually considered significant enough to warrant a snapshot. I look, too, for domestic patterns and practiced daily routines that make us feel at home or that confirm, or conform to, our ideas of what home should be’ (Deveney, 2018).

Deveney is far from the first photographer to include text into or alongside her images, indeed towards the end of the 1960s Danny Lyon and Bill Owens were supplementing their images with written commentary provided by the subjects of their photographs.

Lyon’s The Bikeriders, for example, places statements alongside images of members of the Chicago Outlaws motorcycle club. Whilst these statements are sometimes lengthy and offer us an insight into the lives of Lyon’s subjects, Deveney’s The day-to-day life of Albert Hastings offers us a pared down commentary which for its brevity is nonetheless poignant.

With relevance to my own practice, Jo-Ana is not an exercise in documenting diary pages. It is about a person and a personality, and how such are shaped (or not) as a result of the individual’s anorexia and its treatment. Successfully co-joining images of food and text was a critical factor for the project.

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Calle, 2017. Rachel Monique

The presentation of photography seen in Sophie Calle: Rachel Monique (Calle, 2017) suits the objective. But, in my view, it is a staid presentation which reveals little or nothing about the person who wrote the diary. It is, therefore, a body of work which is exclusive and not inclusive. Deveney’s work clearly demonstrates the collaboration which took place between photographer and subject, it is a body of work which is highly inclusive.

In the early stages of Jo-Ana, the subject stated that on so many occasions her treatment had become about the illness rather than the person, and that this is a view commonly held by anorexics.

Consequently, ensuring that the participant’s voice was allowed to be heard through the photography became a primary concern. This was achieved, successfully I feel, through a series of still life images featuring both diary extracts together with the subject’s personal effects (see lead image).

 

References

Deveney, KayLynn (2018). ‘The day-to-day life of Albert Hastings’. Kaylynndeveney.com [online]. Available at: https://kaylynndeveney.com/the-day-to-day-life-of-albert-hastings/ (accessed Thursday 28 June 2018)

 

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