Artists combine words and images to create a twist in the connection viewers make of the images and texts’ narratives. Roger Hilton, an abstract painter quoted: “Words and paintings don’t go together” referring to the explanatory text we usually see of a certain painting. He believes that one can understand a painting better by just looking at it, the more words that are written to explain the painting; the less people will see the painting.
However, text being part of the image may create a twist, portray emotional experience, enhance the experience of viewing and stimulate imagination. Combining both image and text in photography prompt different set of questions for the viewer. The viewer will look at the image, interpret it, read the text, get clues from the text, goes back to the image and reinterpret it. Peg Grady, a contemporary artist loves using text in her artwork, she explains that it slows people down and draws them to see the piece.
Text can reinforce a message but can also mislead if a misleading title is used for example. The strength of that leads the viewer to believe in one thing or another. The result provokes unexpected responses and forces the viewer to make an assumption or question the work. It gives the mind a space to think and unfold a story of its own. Some artists like to include handwritten text to their images such as Francesca Woodman and Duane Michals for example, to convey personal thoughts and emotions and to invite the viewer to get closer to the image and engage with the artist on one to one basis and it is up to the viewer to make a connection and give a meaning to the narrative.
In her series “I shall say goodbye with my strengthening love for you, forever and ever”, Johanna ward draws upon the narratives of her parents’ relationship until their separation using combination of landscape, still life, photographs of domestic life and love letters from the late seventies. She draws on myth, private emotions and fairy tales using the text of a love letter from her father to her mother.
The landscapes in Ward’s photographs are rich in memory and it gives the viewer the chance to connect to it. Her ability to capture the inherent beauty and provide context and narrative to her series is fascinating. Ward used the images to visualize the text in a way that invites the reader to take part of her storytelling and create their own interpretations to the work.
Below is a video of the photographer’s photo book:
I Shall Say Goodbye with my Strengthening Love for You, Forever and Ever
L A Noble Gallery
Bibliography / References:
Alexander, J. (2015). Johanna Ward: ‘I shall say goodbye…’ [online]. Perspective on Place. Available from: https://perspectivesonplace.wordpress.com/tag/johanna-ward/ [Accessed 22 March, 2017].
Artspan. Words & Pictures [online]. Available from: http://www.artspan.com/art-articles/136/Words%20%26%20Pictures [Accessed 25 March, 2017].
Dennis, J., D. Combining Image and Text in Photography and Art [online]. Available from: https://juliedawndennis.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/combining-image-and-text/ [Accessed 25 March, 2017].
Noble, L. Telling Tales #4 Johanna Ward [online]. Laura Noble Blog. Available from: http://lauraannnoble.blogspot.ae/2014/06/telling-tales-4-johanna-ward.html [Accessed 22 March, 2017].