Founded in 1927, The Spotlight is the entertainment industry’s primary casting resource. When I acquired several 1993 editions some years ago, I began by cutting out the faces and rebinding the books; subsequently, videos, carbon copy drawings, photographs and site-specific installations have emerged. The cut-up as a literary and artistic technique has a long and established history – from the surrealists to Berlin Dadaists to the beat poets of California. My re-casting of these 1993 Spotlight directories evokes the spirit of surrealist collage, embracing Andre Breton’s definition of Surrealism as a disruptive “juxtaposition of two more or less disparate realities” or, in this case, a disruptive sequence of voided portraits.
In addition to being a series of books, I have shown The Spotlight Project in various guises drawing out sculptural, performance and photographic aspects of the project.
'Spotlight (Actors)', 2006, 43cm x 25cm
'Spotlight (Actresses)', 2006, 43cm x 25cm
Recently, I began to re-photograph the pages of these altered books, to produce a series of soft cover books, each having the original sequence of the voided profiles. There are twelve volumes of each; entitled Leading Actors N–Z and Character Actresses A–K, each approx. 84 pages, with a descriptive yet poetic text on the second page.
My artists’ books are in collections at Victoria and Albert Museum, Joan Flash Artists’ Books Collection, Chicago Institute, The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Chelsea Art Library, London, Guildhall University, Winchester School of Art, Bruce Peel Collection, Edmonton, Yale University, New Haven, Manchester Metropolitan University, College of Communications, London, and several private collections.
Inside text reads…
I once heard that some cultures believe that photography can steal your soul and that the process was disrespectful to the spiritual world. When finding an old Spotlight, the UK’s largest casting directory for actors, I began removing the faces in order to free the soul of the sitter.
In removing the faces from the book, the cut out photograph from the previous pages got revealed, making a succession of freed souls.
In Chiapas, Mexico, there are towns, which still adhere to the old Mayan ways, and although most of the people today allow their photograph to be taken, infants are protected. It is still believed the souls of infants are fragile and are susceptible to leaving the body.
These books taken from my altered Spotlight book are dedicated to all the fragile souls that are susceptible to leaving.