This is a multilayered work that consists of a number of elements: A single photograph, a video, and explanatory text.
Below are the elements that make up the work. The image in ‘Absent from Work’ is a single large grid based image of photographs taken of the pages of a China Clay mine captain’s notebook. Each page details the mundane happenings of day-to-day life in working in the China Clay industry at the turn of the century.
Absent from Work emerged from an examination of the archive at Wheal Martyn Museum. The archive contains few written items and consists mainly of physical objects donated by people who have worked in the clay mines or locals who live in the area. The notebook stood out as a written account of life in the mines and was appealing in that it appeared to be ‘nothing of note,’ amongst the other objects in the archive.
What was intriguing on closer examination was the way the notebook had been used. Conventionally, working left to right, its author had documented daily life and events. He had also turned the book over and working from the rear, to note down those members of staff who were ‘absent from work.’
I have written a longer explanation about how I imagine this work would function.
The single photograph:
The entire piece attempts to create a correspondence between the economic activity of work, as described in the notebook, its direct relationship to the means of production and the production of further meanings within the circumstances of experiencing this and potentially (any) other practice. It is an expression of labour, an activity through which meaning is created from a given set of circumstances, and in which the audience is inscribed into the work through association.
In the video various people describe their days. The viewer is expected to read the photograph and to hear and view the video. The entire work is built upon the relationships between image, video, sound and text.
The video loop:
An installation view of the project: