Maureen Paley is pleased to present an exhibition of new photographic work by Hannah Starkey.
Before she made the first Untitled series (1997), Hannah Starkey produced three bodies of work which illustrate her growing curiosity about our relationship to physical space.
As a student on the photography course at Napier University in the early 1990s she took part in an exchange visit to Baltimore in the USA. She began a project (which she would later continue in Belfast) which was concerned with ’ownership and privacy, and how people felt about those things. Like garden furniture, which is the same all over the world; parameters, how high fences were and the difference between the ways working class and middle class people felt about this. I asked people to write on the photographs, saying what they thought about the image, and I was struck by the way their personalities came out in what they wrote.’ Fascination with the resonance of objects within a space led to another piece of conceptual experimentation while in the USA: ’I found an empty house on the edge of a middle class community. It was the only house were black people lived in the community. It was cheap to rent and there were lots of families coming and going.’ She bought second-hand clothes and used them to create a set of inhabitants, arranging the clothes around the house and ‘building the characters.’ ’I bought a lumberjack shirt and a small pink dress and hung them in the wardrobe. Even though there were no people living there, you had a real sense of their presence.’
Hannah Starkey’s creation of imaginary communities in the Baltimore exchange project was an early indication of the cityscapes which she would visualise and produce during her MA studies at the Royal College of Art in the mid 1990s. She developed the methodology which she has now used throughout three separate and major series of work, of asking her participants to act out everyday realities, small events which might otherwise have gone unnoticed, and making from these the monumental tableaux with which she is now strongly identified.
Taken from Moments in the Modern World: Photographic works by Hannah Starkey 1997-2000 Val Williams 2000
Hannah Starkey was shortlisted for the Citibank Private Bank Photography Prize, The Photographers Gallery, London in 2001. Recent exhibitions include Melancholy, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, Telling Tales: Narrative Impulses in Recent Art, Tate Liverpool, No World Without You, Reflections of Identity in New British Art, Herzliya Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Extended Painting, Monica de Cardenas, Milan, Instant City, Museo Pecci, Prato, Italy. Her work is currently included in Landscape at Saatchi Gallery @ 30 Underwood Street, London.