Melancholy has a rich history as a concept, and was traditionally linked with Saturn, the Roman god of time, who was seen to confer varying degrees of genius or insanity upon an individual. James Finney’s work centres on the idea that photography might be an intrinsically melancholic medium due to its ability to evoke stillness and silence, its links with mortality and the conceit that the photographer is transfixed with beauty and the world of things. Following in the tradition of still life where objects are represented as an accumulation of signs, in this work the camera is used as a transformative device to turn subjects from the tabletop still life – a bottle, flowers, antiquities – into objects of melancholia.


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