Black Flag by Annabel Elgar is a body of work commissioned for the solo exhibition. Twelve images explore themes of an ambiguous and uneasy rural idyll. This large-scale commission followed on from Annabel’s contribution to Twenty White Chairs in 2003.
Elgar’s photographs are painstakingly constructed, shot on the edges of Basingstoke and Fleet and tapping into the unsettling behaviour of characters who are often preoccupied by some distraction out of eyeshot to the viewer, or simply contained within their own space, with only their backs or cropped features to be seen. Fractured within the slow revelation of where they find themselves they are oblivious to our position as onlookers and frequently to each other. They offer a spectrum of divided and detached experiences rather than a unified whole.
Small and unobtrusive details gradually come into focus, alluding towards some past event, functioning as a bed of metaphor through which we are able to establish a half-knowledge of what we are seeing. A deflated balloon, some rotting fruit, party streamers and the scab on a knee are potent signifiers that despite their sense of quiet and subtlety become as important as the overriding image.
Has a crime been committed? Have they been caught in the act?
My work is concerned with engineering staged scenarios, which explore childhood memories that unearth sharp awakenings to the loss of innocence. I am interested in how these fictions draw parallels of recognition and displacement from my own experience. It is important that the characters inhabit a fraught and ambivalent psychological space that acknowledges the contradictions of the ensuing spectacle and that the narratives contain a complex code of details that slowly reveal themselves as unforeseen antidotes to the assumed drama that is being witnessed. I wish to create photographs where the prerogative is concerned with the exposure of vulnerability in its various forms.
Annabel Elgar, 2004
Back Flag was commissioned and produced by The Wapping Project for the Jerwood Commissions 2004 and continued the creative partnership between Jules Wright, the Director of The Wapping Project and Roanne Dods, the Director of the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.
Annabel Elgar is a photographic artist based in London. She was one of eight nominees for the Prix Elysée 2014-2015 with her project Cheating the Moon, which was shown at the Musée de L’Elysée in Lausanne in Spring 2015. She has an MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art and her work has featured in numerous international exhibitions and publications throughout Europe and North America. These have included Theatres of the Real at FotoMuseum Antwerp; New Photography in Britain at the Galleria Civica di Modena, Italy (curated by Filippo Maggia); Contemporary photography from north-west Europe at the Fondazione Fotografia Modena, Italy and Photography is Magic at Aperture, New York (curated by Charlotte Cotton). She has had two solo shows at The Wapping Project, London, and has also exhibited at, amongst others, ZEPHYR, Mannheim, Germany; Metronom, Modena, Italy; Sweet Briar College, Virginia, USA; Galerie Polaris, Paris; the Museum of New Art, Detroit, USA, and Apexart, New York, USA. Elgar’s work has featured as an online portfolio with Photomonitor and Photoworks.
Noon in the Desert, Elgar’s photo book about the nuclear weapons test site in the Nevada desert, was shortlisted for the Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award at Arles 2019 and also for the FUAM Dummy Book Award 2019 at the Istanbul Photo Book Festival.
Annabel Elgar is represented by Metronom, Italy.