Glasgow School of Art, 2015

Subject Missing

Friday 20th November 2015 (11am-6pm)

Subject Missing asked how can lens-based practices investigate physical absences of parental/maternal figures and move beyond current representations of the missing or the lost within the ‘family’? Guest speakers Anne Brodie, Laura Gonzalez, Michail Mersinis and Jacqueline Butler  were invited to bring both personal, autobiographical experiences and distinct methodological approaches demonstrated in their recent work to help discuss this question. The event included an opportunity for GSA students to show portfolios of work that also explored the theme of ‘subject missing’ within the family. Subject Missing was supported through the GSA’s Research Development Fund.


Anne Brodie is a multi-media visual artist with a cross disciplinary approach to her work. Often collaborating with scientists, her practice is based on the subjectivity hidden behind the probing, measuring and collecting of scientific data and from that, what is selected and deemed ‘valid’ enough.

After leaving the RCA, she jointly won the international Bombay Sapphire Prize for design and innovation involving the use of glass, with a short film, ‘Roker Breakfast’ in 2005. Anne was awarded the British Antarctic Survey / Arts Council fellowship to Antarctica in 2006/07, and has been the recipient of two Wellcome Trust Arts Awards for her projects ‘Exploring the Invisible’, and ‘Dead Mother’ (also jointly funded by the Arts Council in 2014). Anne’s work has been shown nationally and internationally at venues which include the Scott Polar Museum, V&A Museum, the Royal Society of Antiquaries Burlington House, The Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Maison de La Européean Photographie, Paris, Reindeerland Film festival Iceland. Her most recent solo exhibition was at Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art, London and she is currently working on a design project with the British Antarctic Survey’s Innovation department and a project based on her recent residency in Lapland.

‘My first degree in Biology and my experience of working with materials whilst studying in the Ceramics and Glass department at the RCA have been major influences on my practice. I use physical materials that surround me in my life, be that dead insects and used tissues in my basement studio, bacteria in a laboratory, or fruit in my allotment. I am interested in the presence and absence of physical bodies and what imbues them with meaning and importance. ‘Dead mother’ has been a culmination of all of my previous work, an attempt to visualize the space created by long-term maternal bereavement and its neurological imprint created by the process of synaptic pruning in the adolescent brain.’

Anne Brodie

Anne Brodie: ‘Frame’ Dead Mother 2014

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Q&A with Anne Brodie (right) and Nicky Bird (left)

Laura Gonzalez is an artist, dancer and writer. Her current practice explores knowledge and the body of the hysteric through film, dance, voice, photography and text. She has presented this work at various festivals including Acts Reacts (London), Unfix and Glasgow Open House. When she is not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with her camera, she teaches postgraduate students at the Glasgow School of Art and Transart Institute in Berlin and New York. She is the co-editor of a book entitled Madness, Women and the Power of Art (InterDisciplinary Press, Oxford, 2013) to which she contributed a work in collaboration with Eleanor Bowen. With her, she has also written a piece about the maternal line and secrets (performed at the ‘Motherhood and Creative Practice’ conference) and another about the paternal object that witnesses its disappearance (performed at the ‘Material Culture in Action’ conference). Both are written as exquisite corpses and start with a missing photograph in a bookwork entitled ‘Things I have never told you’. In 2014, she curated the exhibition ‘Alternative Maternals’ at the Lindner Project Space in Berlin, which travelled to London South Bank University. She is finishing the writing of a monograph on seduction and art, which will be published in 2016. She is an Ashtanga yoga practitioner and she documents her walk to the shala with one daily image titled ‘Today, 7am’, which she posts on her blog.

Things I have never told you

Laura Gonzalez: ‘Things I have never told you’

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Q&A with Laura Gonzalez (right) and Sally Waterman (left)

Michail Mersinis is a lecturer in photography at the Glasgow School of Art. An artist from Greece, his revolves around the photographic event and its relation to place. By using photography’s strenuous relationship with reality and its indexical qualities he makes work that superimpose the projected qualities of places with the real, working mainly through photography and sculpture. Recent projects include tracing the evolving history of archetypal locations of the Classical World, considering their history and location, utilising remains of fragmented personal histories to compile personal archives and constructing narratives that consider history and fiction in equal measures.  He is currently working on three projects – the reconstruction of a family album made from reclaimed and borrowed material, an investigation of the photographic event as it is manifested in relationship to undocumentable events and the material relationship of photography to the apparent subject. Mersinis’ practice is one of relocation and travel travels and makes works that consider potentiality and fact in equal measures.


Michail Mersinis: ‘Necromanteion’, Eleysina, Greece 2014

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Q&A with Michail Mersinis (right) and Cat Weir (left)

Jacqueline Butler is a Scottish artist living and working in Manchester, England. She works with photography, digital video, the artist book, and writing and has a particular fascination with archives and collections (both public and private). Her interests are in exploring visual narrative and con­templating on the material qualities of photography in both analogue and digital forms. Currently undertaking a PhD at Glasgow School of Art, her research considers what constitutes photography in the 21st Century, combining pre-photography principles with traditional and new print technologies. Jacqueline’s arts practice evaluates the tangibility of the contemporary photograph and explores themes associated with analogue photography, of loss and melancholia through sources such as her own family history and public collections. She exhibits her work internationally and regularly presents arts performances at international conferences and arts events. She is a coordinator of a national artists group FTN (Family Ties Network), and founding member of MCollective (artist book co-operative) Jacqueline is a Principal Lecturer in Photography and Director of Studies, in the Department of Media at Manchester School of Art, MMU.

Jacqueline’s talk, ‘Creamy Translucence: Notes on the delights of women collectors’ will focus on the power of imagination of photographic archives through work she is currently developing. The intention of the talk is to open up thoughts on the authenticity of archiving, specifically concerning the power of photographic representation and how images stimulate the imagination, no matter whether based on fact or fiction by evaluating the significance of the performative as a creative act.

Jacq Butler

Jacqueline Butler ‘As in a Dream She is Palpable’, (2015)

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Q&A with Jacqueline Butler (right) and Lizzie Thynne (left)