a sketchbook for The Library Van

Gideon Koppel

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products


John Berger writes in an essay on Portraiture (1969): 'It seems to me unlikely that any important portraits will ever be painted again... I can imagine multi-medium memento-sets devoted to the character of particular individuals. But these will have nothing to do with the works now in the National Portrait Gallery.' This research project asks whether it is possible to develop a new kind
of portrait of a group or community - one which reflects the complexity of modern individuals, giving them the possibility of expressing what they want the world to know about them, their aims, ambitions and desires?

Characters from a farming community in mid Wales were invited to present themselves to camera. Following Richard Avedon's In the American West (1976), I developed an aesthetic of a neutral white infinity background and simple compositions of three-quarter length standing figures. The intention was to isolate the inhabitants from their environment - to create images without romanticism or contrived drama, revealing the physicality and gestures of each character. Contrary to the conventions of broadcast television interviews, the characters were not given the comfort of being seated nor were their silences filled.

I explored High Definition Video which offered an equivalent presence and detail to Avedon's large format photography. The portrait describes a world in which people challenge and adapt to changing circumstance and environments - simultaneously the death and birth of a landscape. Super 8mm film images of landscapes in juxtaposition to the digital high definition generate a parallel critical dialogue within the work.
Original languageMultiple languages
Place of PublicationSheffield International Documentary Film Festival, UK
PublisherUK Film Council
Media of outputDVD
Size60 minutes
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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