Nigel Shafran documented the act of washing the dishes in his apartment’s kitchen for a series of photographs entitled Washing Up. His observations of daily life give us a glimpse of this everyday chore from someone else’s perspective.
Did it surprise you that this was taken by a man? Why?
I don’t think it did surprise me that is was taken by a man, in the same way it wouldn’t if it was taken by a woman. I think if this had been attempted 30/40 years ago, then my answer would probably be different, but the gender stereotypes are different now with regards to roles within the home.
Does gender contribute to the creation of an image?
I don’t think gender does contribute necessarily. Having looked at Sophie Calle’s work previously, she specifically chose women to feature in her series but this could have been done just as successfully if men had been involved. I think it is personal preference of the way you want your work to be interpreted to which gender you use.
What does this series achieve by not including people?
I think that if you were to look at the photographs as just that you wouldn’t immediately perceive them as being autobiographical, but by accompanying them with the text, Shafran has made them more personable.
Do you regard them as interesting still life compositions?
I didn’t particularly like the series as a whole. I felt that it felt quite flat and didn’t have much of a narrative to it, compared to earlier series in this section. To me it felt quite messy, and not composed, this could have obviously been the way that he intended them to be interpreted.