#InterviewSeries: Caroline Molloy, Photographer

Caroline Molloy is a senior lecturer in Photography at Coventry University. She is a visual artist who has a background in photography and visual anthropology. Using psycho-geography and sociological methodologies her research focuses on our relationship with space, place, home and our sense of belonging. Caroline first got involved with the Centre for Mobilities Research through her interest in photography as a form of communication. As a visual artist, her intersection with Mobilities (the focus of our research centre) looks at how we make sense of our social and cultural surroundings through photography. Caroline is interested in the challenges we face when visiting and responding to another place/another country. She asks if we can ever avoid misinterpretations, generalisations and fetishizing the unfamiliar when commenting on any society we are not embedded within. With an extended interest in John Urry’s Tourist Gaze (2002) Caroline questions whether we can see beyond the tourist gaze in a place where we are the stranger? Is it possible to look beyond travel and tourism as something more than a form of imbalanced imperialism or a non-sacred experience, she asks?

These questions have led Caroline to look for methods of research in order to make sense of the unfamiliar. In the same way a chef may look at a local cuisine as a way of investigating a new environment, Caroline as a photographer chose something familiar, the local photographic industry, to find common ground with her participants in and around Fort Cochin, Kerala. Beyond an aesthetic reading of her images, Caroline’s photographic series titled Untouched Copy, on exhibit during our February Showcase on the 26th and until the end of the academic year, asks questions about the community she investigates.

In this context, mobility becomes the lens for understanding the milieu of the image. Working on the assumption that analogue photographic studio portraiture is reflective of the social and cultural aspirations of the sitter, Caroline’s series Untouched Copy documents the backgrounds to these portraits as a legacy of the photographic studio. The images are a dialogue between the real and the imagined. They were created over the course of five years during which there was paradigm shift in photography. In these five years, analogue photography was replaced by digital photography. Caroline witnessed the high street photographic studios adapt to a new era of photography, during which they were either closed or were whitewashed and remodeled. The elaborate studio backgrounds once considered an integral part of the vernacular language of studio photography quickly became a legacy of a bygone era. The work is a postcolonial conversation between photography and the visualisation of a specific culture, at a particular historical point in time.

Caroline will be chairing a panel titled ‘Photography and the Archive,’ at the ‘Memories of the Future’  International conference, School of Advanced Study, Senate House on 29th – 30th March 2019. This panel looks at how archives can be reactivated within a national and cultural context.

Caroline is also organising the summer conference on Photography and Collaboration with the Association for Photographers in Higher Education (APHE) at Coventry University, July 2019. She will be chairing a panel on ‘working with your community.’

Upcoming publication: Ashley, T., Weedon, A. (eds.) (2021) ‘Rethinking the photographic studio as a politicised space’, in Developing a Sense of Place: Models for the Arts and Urban Planning. UCL publishing.

Further information about Caroline’s work can be found on her website @ www.carolinemolloy.media

Twitter: @CMPhotointerest Instagram: @CMPhotointerest

The original post can be found @ https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/cemore/caroline-molloy-photographer-interview/.

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