I was commissioned to write this a few years ago for the Central European House of Photography in Bratislava (and thank you to all the photo...
Friday, 29 November 2013
In the Dentist's Chair
I need some distraction so...
I like the way that Muriel Hasbun ties in the archival x-rays of her dentist father into a wider cultural debate. They latch onto the idea of trauma, identification and evidence and are part of a larger history of how photography (including x-ray photography) connects to a social and medical history beyond simple photography per se.
It also ties into the idea that photography is not a simple subject. It's too big for that. Most discussions of photography touch on a tiny area of photography - you can read Marvin Heifermann's questions on this here - so it's good to see the dental x-rays being put forward.
I saw Muriel's pictures a week before I had the joy of joys of going to the Eastman Dental Hospital in London - four hours of sitting in a chair while I was exhaustively cut and slit and drilled and chipped and poked with scalpels, needles, chisels and drills in a combination of bone grafting, cutting and implanting.
For Scott, my fantastic, meticulous painless dentist, I am also the subject of a dissertation which has a large visual element in it - including film and photography. And as I continue my fortnightly visits to the dentist's chair, I continue to be filmed. For me it's a good thing, it's evidential and I know that Scott wants to get the highest possible grades. And he will. The photography proves that.
But at the same time, it is also curious that here I am, somebody interested in photography, being photographed in a way that is not really considered photography. But it is.
I'm sure there must be many books on dentistry within the medical field but how about one's that go beyond medical, one's that enter photographic culture that we know and love. Broomberg and Chanarin did something on dentist chairs and more there's the British Book of Smiles from the Simpsons (it gets shown to Ralph to show him what happens if...)
But apart from that, there's not much. And there should be, because teeth are such an integral part of our lives.
More integral than a selfie is. Here's a selfie of me in the dentist's chair.
And here's another... No, one's too many already. And now I have to get back to whatever it was that I was doing. Wasn't easy, I know that. And it wasn't fun, I know that.