Family photographs are intended as tools of memory, yet over the years, names are lost and locations obscured. In ObjectImage, recently released by Daylight Books, British artist Sarah Tulloch has cut and collaged black-and-white photographs from a collection she inherited from her grandfather. By obliterating faces, remixing landscapes, and finding unexpected juxtapositions, Tulloch creates new moments from these faded memories.
In a conversation with photographer Marjolaine Ryley included in the monograph, Tulloch says that a “sense of not knowing or not being able to access something but having clues of something left behind” partly fueled the work. In some of the images, two figures are fused, their faces lost in the connection. In one, a disembodied arm hovers near a serene body of water, while in another, half a horse with a hint of a new rider appears in the diagonal fissure. Along with the photographs, Tulloch also recycles her grandfather’s postcards, with stray words such as “Stonehenge” now clashing with a jumble of palm trees, gardens, and building forms.
In an essay in the book, curator and writer Matthew Hearn observes:
Unrehearsed and irreversible, her playful reworkings of old black-and-white photographs are essentially all-in attempts to reconvene the image: to make it happen (again). Her cuts simultaneously divide and unite the composition. Like the imposition of ‘zips’ in the paintings of Barnett Newman, they impose a central unifying feature within, and upon, the final image.
ObjectImage, an elegantly designed book with stitched binding, also includes Tulloch’s newspaper-based collages, which likewise take an off-kilter approach to the frozen time of a photograph. As Tulloch affirms in her interview, “I agree we all need origin stories but with my work it is not straightforward because at the same time as there is a nod to that idea, there is also a refusal, a sense of things being incomplete and in flux.”