Another day and the Grand Miniclick Photobook Advent Calendar rolls on with our regular writer Alexander Norton taking us through Paul Graham’s ‘Does Yellow Run Forever’…
The colour yellow has a host of connotations. These are not obvious by any means. Yellow cooperates with gold and gold implies a kind of value. So when considering the question ‘Does Yellow Run Forever?’ we are posed an incredibly in depth answer in return. Paul Graham’s practice has always made us work for the meaning and the answer. To seemingly simple questions asked of us we can never truly place an answer in a concise sentence. Our answer is convoluted and avoids direction. We cannot put a solid finger on the true meaning, but we understand it.
This is his best attribute as an artist. It separates him from being a photographer, instead a thinker using photography in with limitless possibilities. It sounds like I am a fan and thats probably true. Although I never love the series he creates, they always spark me to think regardless if I agree with him or not. I have always thought of him as the chameleon of modern photography.
It took a review and a handful of conversations to solve the mystery of his new work. An incredibly concise review by Adam Bell on Paper-Journal defined thoughts I had about the work as I browsed the publication. We cannot fail to notice the attention to detail, down to the nearest millimetre. We do not expect anything less from the partnership of Paul Graham and publishers MACK. They have not let us down with this instalment.
The tension rises as the series progresses but never climaxes in a loud way. Our greed and lure for money, for survival and even money as a creation forms the colour yellow. Yellow, as mentioned, is a loaded term. The front cover is a soft gold with perfect lettering sunk into the hardback cover. Much like A Shimmer of Possibility images dance across the page and blank pages allow the experience to feel considered. A slight sheen lies on top of the photographs as they raise to the surface, bringing their digital quality to our attention. Rainbows are the initial subject.
When I consider what a rainbow is it coincides with luck. There is a pot at the end of the rainbow, somehow. This pot is not physical but it is the feeling of reaching a goal and the reward is the ‘Yellow’ aspect. We navigate through what feels like two different worlds, the vast landscape of Ireland to the beds of sleeping women. Knowing what is at the end of the rainbow ties with the sensation of desire and lust. The reward just seems too sweet to wait for, or work for. Prostitution becomes the next connotation. Seeing sleeping women on incredibly british bedsheets I get the feeling I am far away from exotic associations. It all feels very real at this point. They sleep there, making a powerful statement just by being there amongst rainbows. Money, greed, trade and supply are all considerations when the images uncover themselves. Alas, rounding off with disappointing photographs of cash and carry stores in New York that seem to provide the ugly truth of gold, of yellow.
These photographs break the illusion or the dream that the sleeping women appear to feel. It brings us to the reality of the situation. That reality is we are governed by money, entirely and there is no real way to change that anymore. This is a very common theme in his work if we consider American Night. It is a very bold thing to confront with photography and I do wonder if it is the best mode for change. It is merely built for thought.
And much like chasing rainbows in the midst of unimaginable light we get closer and closer until it is within grasp. The road narrows and turns as each hand movement shifts the steering wheel left and right. His aim is to the capture the rainbow. What is at the end of it? We will never know, but folklore can imply.
It is these three components that create a passionate argument that is incredibly neutral in every aspect. There is no real way to read the series of moments, there is merely a theme. For every sleeping lady dancing in the midst of blank walls their thoughts are inspired to imagine the possibility of life and what we can achieve. What we can try to attain but will never fully grasp. Only to crash and fall when the dream awakes. We wake up to political unrest. Money is the cause, the currency, the transaction and the cure for our lifestyle developed over centuries. Gold is the object, but Yellow is the question. Does Yellow Run Forever? Will it continue to spurn on our life yet hinder our happiness? To facilitate our desires but destroy another human being mentally and physically. To concede to greed or to chase a new way of living, at least for now. These are the questions involved.
(photos courtesy of Motto)
‘Does Yellow Run Forever?’ costs £30 and is available from MACK.