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DESCRIPTIONSofa Portraits is a series of portraits of my daughter, Isabel, watching television
V V books
Sofa Portraits Colin Pantall
They say that ninety percent of TV is junk. But,
ninety per cent of everything is junk.
My daughter Isabel didnt like television when she was little.
As a baby, she sat in her high chair and saw whatever we saw; the early
evening news mostly. She witnessed 911 and the Afghanistan war while
eating mashed banana and sieved peas. Later, when she was old enough to
choose programmes for herself, she was particular about what she would
She didnt enjoy regular childrens television shows; they were filled with
unpredictable emotions, bad men, monsters and other scary images she was
not ready to embrace. Instead of contemporary childrens television, she
chose videos of classics like The Clangers or Pingu. Later she watched
movies. The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh and the first half of the Sound of
Music (before the Nazis kick in) were her early favourites.
She watched those films from the sofa and retreated to the fantasy world of
her choice. Mostly she watched when she was tired, putting her
high-energy body on pause while her mind ran away with Totoro or Baloo.
Mentally she was in a colourful world that was outside herself but at the
same time safe and within her control. It was a world where she could let
her imagination run free.
Virginia Woolf wrote that a woman needs a room of her own a place to
think, write and create words. In the same way, a child needs a room of her
own, or at least a place where she can be free to be who she wants to be,
where her day isnt regulated away into a series of lessons and organized
activity. Isabel has never had a heavily regulated life, but within the British
culture of education it is regulated enough. In a small way, the sofa Isabel
watched television from was an escape from all this. It was a room of her
own, the place where she could wear what she wanted, lie and stretch and
sit with comfort her only thought.
I identify with these. Her carefree isolation seems
refreshingly autonomous among representations of
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:49pm on November 20, 2007
Shes so motionless, with that slack-jawed
stare really quite an indictment against TV
watching. Ive never seen pictures of a living
kid appear so lifeless.
I found them disturbing.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:53pm on November 20 2007
Keep in mind that the photographs displayed
are the ones the photographer chose to group
together. Most likely he had hundreds to
choose fromWe are only seeing the photographs
that Colin Pantall wants us to see.
posted by Sailormoon at 7:29AM on November 21, 2007
All pictures copyright Colin Pantall. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.