Case Study 2 (Gideon Mendel)

Case Study 2 looks at the work of Gideon Mendel, in particular the project Dzanghal produced over a 6 month period from May to October 2016, and his work around flood zones.

Mendel’s projects include several platforms e.g. exhibition / film / publication / web, planned from the outset.  His project around flood zones clearly wanted to make a statement about climate change, and he photographed people standing in water, staged portraits to  convey the experience of those whose property was flooded, Submerged Portraits. Mendel successfully brought together different ideas for example by including water damaged photographs he found at the flood sites he visited.   These artefacts add other layers of humanness to the project,  creating a sense of loss and impermanence, adding to the impact of the experience of being flooded and the environmental issues raised.

Passport photo, found floating in floodwater, Jawahar Nagar, Srinagar, India, October 2014
available at: http://gideonmendel.com/watermarks/

The presentation of this completed project was also experimental as he exhibited video, made at the same time as the photography, and also by showing this photographs in less conventional formats, for example, an installation using large windows with the images facing out.

Dzanghal  was produced from May-Oct 2016, on visits to Calais refugee camps, where Mendel was originally going to teach photography to refugees.  He found that the risk of identification put fear into the refugees and so instead of photographing them directly, he collected ad photographed the things they left behind.   Using studio techniques, simple plain backgrounds and items laid out.  The exhibition for this work was quite experimental as Mendel laid the items themselves out on the floor of the gallery, with the photographed objects on the  wall.

He also produced a book, 80 pages of images and text, coinciding with the exhibition. The success of the project lay in Mendel’s vision, but also in the meticulous research which supported this work.  He consulted with others, including agencies , interned people at the camp, publishers, etc. all of which strengthened his project.

This case study was a useful example of a project produced over six months.  It also led me to think of audience for the FMP work, and about reaching the right people with the formats presented. Will my chosen platform(s) reach the people I want to reach? Also who I might ask to contribute or assist with my research. Who might help?

Featured image: Mendel, G. (2016) Twelve playing cards, Collected 21 May 2016
Images available at:  gideonmendel.com
(Accessed 30 September 2019)