Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Finding Stephen Nelson

Before I went any further with this idea, I wanted to find out a little bit more about the artist who donated Ricoh to the Free Art Fair. After all, if I'm to pass on this camera to people I eventually want him to know exactly what his generosity has inspired. I'm also privately concerned that he's the type of artist who is only concerned with his privates. I'm no prude, but I've spent much of the last few days imagining what fantastical prints might be contained on the two rolls of film and none of them involve a close-up of a random stranger's willy.

In my tired state yesterday, I turned on my laptop and Google the artist's name. Within seconds I realised that I'd hit gold dust: an American photographer's website with page after page of stunning landscapes, from California's Great Central Valley to the icy wastelands of Antarctica. Original prints are selling on there for upwards of $1,000. Forget the art project, I'm selling these bad boys and moving to Hawaii!

I kissed the two 35mm cases repeatedly, so much so that some of the black felt tip writing came off on my lip. Staring at the smudged, hand-written "Nelson 09" label on each of them, I couldn't believe my continued luck! Looking back at the screen displaying the website of American landscape photographer Stephen Johnson, I couldn't believe how stupid I am capable of being. 

Crock of shit. With the retirement plan on hold and the mild dyslexia corrected, it was back to the internet. The FAF website offered few clues. The page listing all the participating artists shows weblinks to all except a handful of them, Nelson included. The online catalogue offered a little more insight though:

Now we were getting somewhere. Nature and football, sounds like a fairly grounded fella. It got me to thinking about what kind of pictures there might be on those two rolls of film? The camera didn't look hi-tech enough to have been taken 20,000 leagues under so maybe it was a rapturous reel of Stevie Gerrard celebrating in front of the Kop? 

In the meantime, I've written the following email to him:
Dear Stephen

Thank you so much for taking part in the Barbican's Free Art Fair. My entry form was drawn 17th on the afternoon and your work had been my first choice. While I am itching to develop your films and discover their contents, I've decided not to simply keep the camera for myself. Inspired by your initial generosity and tickled by the idea of receiving undeveloped film, I have decided to pass the camera to other photographers with a roll of free film - the only direction being that they return the film to me undeveloped. 

I'm not sure how I will determine where the camera heads yet, but I have set up a blog dedicated to the camera's travels - see - and will document how the project develops. Hopefully within a year or two I will have accrued enough returned films to stage an unseen exhibition. 

This project is still obviously in its earliest stages so any input or advice would be greatly received.

Best wishes, Steve

Here's hoping he doesn't think I'm some kind of stalker. I'll keep you posted when - or if - I get a reply...

1 comment:

  1. Now, that's so fascinating ... hm, I am waiting for his reply ... your next posting ...