< Back to Texts

VIVE LES VACANCES (UK) (2017)

“In America, the photographer is not simply the person who records the past, but the one who invents it.” Susan Sontag (1933 – 2004)

Text introducing ‘Vive Les vacances’ shown at the 7Galerie, Sète, France in 2017.

Holidays live on. Through experiences. Through the memory of those experiences. And when memory fades, through photographs. Photographs live on. Apart from us. The photograph travels, in search of new destinations. Proliferates…and we are overwhelmed in a world of photographs. The photograph today is vulgar, Charlie Bonallack proposes. You are robbed of thinking. But the porcelain omits, displaces…it helps sustain the memory. Bonallack—in these Phossils—revives the complicity of photographs and the holidays, and the rapture of our experience of them. The objet trouvé—in the tradition of the Surrealists, of Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes—is punctured for new ends. The marvellous flourishes in the quotidian of the past and the life we lost…that now stirs at the touch of these Phossils. They are like shards cast up from the lagoon of our collective memories, that seem so utopian and yet so real. Bonallack works from life—the lost life filtered through the image. The high-grade porcelain clay is rolled and fired at 800°C, the portrait hand-painted and fired again at 1280°C, and through this alchemy of the image, the Phossil is turned to stone. Terra firma… A woman in sunglasses, sealed in the cobalt of a stone’s memory… A gathering—of friends or family—stained with the salt of the sun… The resuscitative power of the Phossil. The beating image-heart in a vulgar age of photographs. The afterlife of the objet trouvé whose story will now be known. The Golem. A life forged from clay, that brings our being to life from the mud of work and drudgery… Without the holidays, what does the everyday become? Art, the Phossil and the holidays, to carry us off and revive us. The sun on our skin.
Dr. Matt Hodges, Academic Head of Sociocultural Anthropology, University of Kent