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Photobook Aesthetics and Shadows Beyond “An Eye for the Tropics”

Eaton, NJ; (2017) Photobook Aesthetics and Shadows Beyond “An Eye for the Tropics”. British Art Studies , 7 10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-07/neaton/001. Green open access

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Abstract

This article examines Lionel Wendt’s photographs of the Sri Lankan shoreline and its pearling economy during the British occupation in the 1930s and 1940s. It considers the light they shed on labour, as well as the tangled relationships between wealth and waste, in an environment where the detritus (cultch) generated by harvesting luxury pearls also formed the most common building materials. The ambivalences of Wendt’s aesthetic are connected to the qualities of pearlescence and the shimmer, which themselves were freighted with both metaphorical meaning and technical possibility, for theorists of modernity like Walter Benjamin and early scientists of photography alike. Considering what was, and was not depicted in Wendt’s photographs, the article describes the materiality of the coercive labour that existed in the Gulf of Manaar, as well as its connected imaginaries, both local and colonial.

Type: Article
Title: Photobook Aesthetics and Shadows Beyond “An Eye for the Tropics”
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-07/neaton/001
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-07/n...
Language: English
Additional information: This article is published under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC International 4.0 licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/)
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10044624
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