Immediately after this introduction I discuss the four artists. My photomontage then follows, with the reflection at the foot of this post.
I found the work of the four artists mentioned in the exercise truly inspirational. I’ve included one example from each artist below:
I do not intend to say too much about each of them as this is not the main purpose of this exercise. I did, however, enjoy looking at their work. Although their messages are often clear there are still subtleties lurking in each of the works above. Hannah Hoch’s Flight is, arguably, a little more concerned with artistry than message. She has used an interesting mix of images, with the pursuing bird sporting a male face and the followed person sporting part female part chimp head/face.
The Today programme with Mishal Husain and John Humphrys
The recent report detailing the salaries of BBC staff has been the subject of the news recently. I wanted to produce a montage that reflected my thoughts on it. Wanting to focus on two BBC staff in the same job, I decided to use Mishal Husain and John Humphrys. Matthew Weaver reported in The Guardian that Husain and Humphrys were paid £250,000 and £650,000 respectively.
I had no interest in examining the details of why they were paid this, rather I wanted to say something (not too subtly) about the gender pay gap. I was also keen to put the BBC’s pay gap in the context of gender pay inequality more generally.
There were other points I wanted to highlight with a little more subtlety, not least the issue of race within the BBC’s data as well as the ubiquity of sexism regardless of race.
Given the topic of the previous exercise, I wanted to make text an integral part of this montage. I tried to choose a relatively pleasant albeit bland font that used script, so that the words would look and feel like conversation. I also wanted the genteel font to be at odds with the seriousness of the content of the exchange between them.
Husain and Humphrys
I was pleased with the selection of the two images. Husain was caught in the middle of a talk she was giving in 2014 on power mentoring. Not only is her facial expression serious, her hand gesture adds weight to what she is saying.
Humphrys’ picture is much more relaxed. His posture has made his mouth shape look like a smile but his eyes don’t reflect this. If anything, they offer a sign of ennui!
The newspapers are deliberately furthest back and more opaque. I felt some of the reporting focused too much on the BBC rather than the more general problem of gender pay inequality. I wanted this reflected in their position.
In contrast, the two charts are not opaque. The chart in the top left emphasises the (eye-watering) differences between the top males’ pay and the females’ at the BBC. The second chart in the opposite corner is much more interesting as it looks at more general pay inequality. This graph is a little more sophisticated and requires some examination. It is not the focus of my photomontage, but it was intended to meet my desire to remind the viewer of the broader issue of gender pay inequality. The composition allows for the viewer to note that this graph uses data from the Government’s Equalities Office. This site provides a rich seam of data to be mined for further analysis.
The blue ‘wash’ had two purposes; firstly, aesthetically to work with the colour of the presenters’ clothing and, secondly, to highlight the presenters and their conversation in the foreground.
This is the least subtle part of the photmontage! I did deliberately use it to raise the issue of race, which I believe represents two aspects to this particular controversy. Firstly, there were racial differences in pay at the BBC as well as gender differences. Secondly, my impression is that sexism is ever-present regardless of race. Hence Humphrys’ final comment emphasises his manhood.
It was going to be a more coarse comment, but I remembered the lessons of the Creative Reading and opted for alliteration. (I suspect it is doubtful, however, that ‘packing’, (the implied) ‘pounds’, ‘pants’ and ‘penis’ offer artistry and lyricism comparable to that of Dylan Thomas.)
On the whole I am very pleased with the photomontage. My first version suffered from poor positioning of the speech bubbles, which I believe I have improved. I am happy to leave it to others to decide if the work has any overall merit.
List of illustrations
Figure 1. Heartfield, J. (1932) Adolf, the Superman, Swallows Gold and Spouts Tin. [Collage] At: http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/heartfield/ (Accessed 23 August 2017)
Figure 2. Hoch, H. (1931) Flucht (Flight). [Collage] At: https://www.artsy.net/artist/hannah-hoch (Accessed 24 August 2017)
Figure 3. Rosler, M. (2004) Photo Op [Photomontage] At: https://www.artsy.net/artist/martha-rosler (Accessed 24 August 2017)
Figure 4. Kennard, P & Philips, C. (2005) Photo Op [Photomontage] At: http://www.newstatesman.com/art-and-design/2013/10/response-peter-kennard-and-cat-phillips-censorship-flourishing-our-public-spa (Accessed 24 August 2017)
Figure 5. Haywood, J. (2017) The Today programme with Mishal Husain and John Humphrys [Photomontage] In possession of: The author: Brighton.