Passing Comments, a wall collage of over 400 photographs, is a personal and poetic mediation on a particular feminist history by Lynda Gammon. Arriving to teach in a visual arts department in the mid-1980s, this work documents Gammon’s everyday life at work. Over the course of a decade, comments made became embedded in her mind. Examples of the comments include:
you need to have a child, you should get pregnant – you cry too easily and when you cry the tears don’t run down your face they pop right out of your eyes – you don’t have any ideas, you start making work without an idea – you don’t make art anymore – you try to make things out of garbage you need to spend money on real materials – your student, get rid of her – people don’t want to look at dark and depressing photographs, you need to make something more cheerful – you should wear more make-up, you used to, and it looked good – ….
As years went on, the artist began creating small figures using chopsticks, Styrofoam balls, and pipe cleaners and photographed these figures in various relationships to each other. She then also pasted the comments she remembered onto the photographs to recreate the poignant, absurd, and at times intense scenarios. Over time, the work grew to approximately 400 photographs with pasted text. All the photographs were then mounted on foam core, card and paper and were sometimes layered with digital colour, ink and paint. These works were then taped directly to the wall in a large patchwork configuration. Gammon titled the work Passing Comments as a reflection of her experience in the academic institution, and an ironic look on the seemingly incidental nature of the remarks.
Gammon’s artist book, Fisgard, is a selection of many of the images and ‘comments.’ It accompanies the exhibition Passing Comments.