Friends and family enter Nigel Grimmer’s photographic work through his continual reworking of the family album format. Disrupting our expectations of “traditional” family portraiture Grimmer obscures the identities of his models, protecting them from the viewer’s gaze; his family are pictured turning their backs to the camera, or masking themselves with a variety of disguises and props.
Although the identities of Grimmer’s subjects are hidden the photographs are still taken at traditional “snapshot moments” and perform the function of mementos of important social exchanges between Grimmer and his entourage.
While his family takes on the roles of dead animals (Roadkill Family Album) or naughty children (The Dunces) Grimmer himself is replaced by his avatar ‘Nigel Doll’. This miniature reproduction of the artist accompanies him on his travels and is photographed in front of various landmarks, dispensing with the risk of Grimmer trusting a stranger with his camera. Slowly, the doppelganger usurps Grimmer from his own snapshot album.
Grimmer quotes Susan Sontag’s “Time’s Relentless Melt” as an allusion to the cyclical nature of the family album and the continual shifting of meaning within the imagery; the subjects of his new photographs are replaced by a younger generation, they appear lost, censored, or forgotten from a sometimes fragile memory.
Charlie Dutton Gallery, 1a Princeton Street, London, WC1R 4AX
The gallery is open to the public Thursday – Friday 11 – 6, Saturday 11 – 2 or by appointment.
Nigel Grimmer is the Lecturer in Photography and Video Art for the University of Bedfordshire.