Gemeinshaft/Gesellshaft

Coley, Rob (2010) Gemeinshaft/Gesellshaft. [Show/Exhibition]

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Abstract

This work takes its name from the systematic sociological study Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, written by Ferdinand Tönnies, first published in 1887. His study presented a distinction between two types of sociological group: Gemeinschaft (translated as community) and Gesellschaft (translated as society). Gemeinschaft/Gesellschaft investigates the notions of ‘community’ and ‘society’ and particularly certain anonymous figures within them. The work consists of photographs of individuals who hold voluntary civic positions of some kind within a single British community. This group are understood to mediate a certain cohesion, be it in a bureaucratic, communicative or charitable sense. The individuals also hold highly influential positions within the sphere of the community and can seemingly affect the everyday lives of people within it. However, these volunteers typically go unnoticed by the wider world and, in a country where the population is now increasingly itinerant, they are often entirely anonymous. This shift from traditionally stable enclaves of people will perhaps represent the end of this notion of Gemeinschaft in Tönnies literal sense and a movement instead towards Gesellschaft. However, the work also raises questions over whether these concepts have in fact always coexisted and whether a true Gemeinschaft is possible without the presence of individual self-interest.

Conceptually these images represent a study of a socio-historical moment and as such are presented in terms which recall a scientific database or document. The unremarkable aesthetic recalls passport photographs, visual testimony and reflects upon the belief in photographic ‘proof ’. The geometric grid that contains the images as a group serves as a visual metaphor for the community itself, emphasising the sense of anonymity within the structure while lacking visual signifiers to give clues as to the specific roles these people play. It is only as individuals, isolated from the group, that any sense of their character is revealed.

Item Type:Show/Exhibition
Additional Information:This work takes its name from the systematic sociological study Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, written by Ferdinand Tönnies, first published in 1887. His study presented a distinction between two types of sociological group: Gemeinschaft (translated as community) and Gesellschaft (translated as society). Gemeinschaft/Gesellschaft investigates the notions of ‘community’ and ‘society’ and particularly certain anonymous figures within them. The work consists of photographs of individuals who hold voluntary civic positions of some kind within a single British community. This group are understood to mediate a certain cohesion, be it in a bureaucratic, communicative or charitable sense. The individuals also hold highly influential positions within the sphere of the community and can seemingly affect the everyday lives of people within it. However, these volunteers typically go unnoticed by the wider world and, in a country where the population is now increasingly itinerant, they are often entirely anonymous. This shift from traditionally stable enclaves of people will perhaps represent the end of this notion of Gemeinschaft in Tönnies literal sense and a movement instead towards Gesellschaft. However, the work also raises questions over whether these concepts have in fact always coexisted and whether a true Gemeinschaft is possible without the presence of individual self-interest. Conceptually these images represent a study of a socio-historical moment and as such are presented in terms which recall a scientific database or document. The unremarkable aesthetic recalls passport photographs, visual testimony and reflects upon the belief in photographic ‘proof ’. The geometric grid that contains the images as a group serves as a visual metaphor for the community itself, emphasising the sense of anonymity within the structure while lacking visual signifiers to give clues as to the specific roles these people play. It is only as individuals, isolated from the group, that any sense of their character is revealed.
Keywords:photography, Interactive
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W640 Photography
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Media
ID Code:6420
Deposited By: Rob Coley
Deposited On:04 Oct 2012 20:28
Last Modified:16 Jun 2014 11:56

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