Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye series: The Fae Richards Photo Archive.




Leonard and Dunye, created a fictional character; The Watermelon Woman. Using archive images, they created an exhibition telling the story of Dunye researching the life of Fae Richards a lesbian American-American woman from childhood to old age.

Dunye attributes her photographic falsification of a life history to the lack of information recorded in real life.

“The Watermelon Woman came from the real lack of any information about the lesbian and film history of African-American women. Since it wasn’t happening, I invented it.”

This is another example of individual images becoming more than the sum of their parts and that without context the images can take on another meaning.

The story Leonard and Dunye have created is believable because of the way they have presented it. but it is no more ‘real’ than Harry Potter. They say this is the reality that wasn’t recorded, however, they have entirely chosen which bits of the story to tell.

I have over 143,000 photos in my collection, there must be an archive in there somewhere

Hearing is believing


Record a real conversation with a friend. (It’s up to you whether you ask permission or not!) Before listening to the recording, write your account of both sides of the conversation. Then listen to the recording and make note of the discrepancies. Perhaps there are unfinished sentences, stammers, pauses, miscommunications etc.

Reflect upon the believability of re-enacted narratives and how this can be applied to constructed photography. What do you learn from the conversation recording process and how can you transfer what you learned into making pictures?

I often record meetings I attend, so that I can listen again, if I can’t quite remember what has been said. especially if I have to write up points made afterwards. Often sometimes later. What I find is that I hardly ever actually listen to them again and what I write down is the essence of the conversation. It’s a like a summay, my understanding of the conversation.

I think that a photograph is something similar, what you bring to it as the photographer isn’t a precise record of the event, but capturing or creating the feeling of the moment. Trying to tell the viewer, what it is that the scene meant to you and how it made you feel.

I think you can transfer, the lighting, the feeling and the ambience of the moment as it felt to you. Trying to recreate the context in which it was taken is also important in conveying the story.

“Questions for the Seller” – Nicky Bird

Nickybird.com. (2020). Question for Seller – Nicky Bird. [online] Available at: http://nickybird.com/projects/question-for-seller/ [Accessed 6 Jan. 2020].

This was an interesting project, whereby Bird bought images from the internet. Mostly old family portraits, which had not sold or were going really cheaply. She asked all of the sellers the question ” How did you come across the photos and what, if anything, do you know about them?”

She then displayed them in a exhibition and resold them via auction. Some were sold at a much greater price than that paid. 


Question for Seller re-situates images in a different context and in so doing allows for a new dialogue to take place. Reflect on the following in your learning log: •

  • Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images an elevated status?
  • Where does their meaning derive from?
  • When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their value increased by the fact that they’re now ‘art’?

Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images an elevated status?

I feel that their presence on the gallery wall doesn’t necessarily elevate them to art, but to exposure and re-interest. The fact that someone has taken the trouble to collect them and display them gives them an interest. It may also be because of the age of some of them, people enjoyed the social history aspect of the images.

Where does their meaning derive from?

I think their mean comes from being rediscovered. Human nature likes to uncover things that are lost or solve puzzles. There’s a mystery about them

When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their value increased by the fact that they’re now ‘art’?

This is an interesting question. I believe that there increased value is a result of them having been part of something bigger. By bringing them together and displaying them, Nicky Bird has added value to their meaning. It’s like the poppy display at the Tower of London in 2014. Each of the poppies was sold off afterwards. I bought one. It’s been in it’s box in a cupboard ever since, but I own a piece of the story was part of and that makes me feel good.