Juxtaposition is the act of placing things side by side, especially for the purpose of comparison or contrast. More specifically, it is the placement of things together that are generally complete opposites or the placement of things together to emphasize their differences, more than their similarities. A juxtaposition in a photograph is interesting because it will generally spark an emotion, which can stem from the jarring effect of the contrast between the objects juxtaposed. It is a concept that has fascinated me for donkeys years, since my high school English lessons when I was first introduced to this word, which arguably itself is a juxtaposition when we look at the etymology of the word – from French juxtaposition, from Latin iuxtā (“near”) from Latin iungō (“to join”) + French position (“position”) from Latin pōnō (“to place”). Back in 2010 we did the classic Project 365, (have a look here) where you take a photograph every day and we accompanied it with a “Groovy word of the day” which allowed us to explore our fascination with words. Some words you just like the sound of , such as “poppycock” or the inherent onomatopoeia in a word such as here, “water plops into pond”. Juxtaposition is a word that would definitely feature in our Groovy Word selection!
This week’s Photo Challenge from the Daily Post is juxtaposition and you can check it out here – http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/photo-challenge-juxtaposition/
In a perfect world we use this challenge to grab a picture in the week that the challenge runs, to force us to shoot something fresh, to challenge us. However, in a dull, wet week in Malvern, I succumbed to referring to an old picture because when we shot the photograph, juxtaposition was the word that jumped out at us, as we grabbed the photograph. We were on holiday in Venice last September and on our wanderings we paused to look at a contemporary art exhibition and the piece in the photograph here was the one that really caught our eye and drew an emotion from us. I was all over this piece like a rash doing my very best Andrew Graham-Dixon impersonation as my arms whirled with enthusiasm, as I aped the animated Andrew at his best. I loved the juxtaposition within the piece itself – the contrast between the uniformly level water which runs through the whole work from left to right, with the er… uniformly uneven shapes and angles of each water bottle. This juxtaposition made the piece for me and would work wherever this art was displayed. Here though it was displayed hung across a doorway, allowing a view of Venice to act as the backdrop for this canvas. This created a second juxtaposition for me, as we then compared the contemporary art of the piece itself, with the living art that is the faded grandeur of Venice, as age and water damage, and sunlight create a rich and ever changing texture on the wall of the Carabinieri behind.
To conclude simply, we enjoyed this week’s challenge – it took us back to a great holiday and a photograph that sparked an emotion in us. I hope you enjoy it too.