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Stacked Chairs Ready For The Night (Ralph Whitten)

Stacked Chairs Ready For The Night (Ralph Whitten)

Author Comment:

This photo was taken during Semana Santa (lit. Holy
Week) before Easter in Seville, Spain. During the
afternoons/evenings of the week many thousands of
people watch Virgins being carried through the city.

In the center of the city the streets are closed to
traffic and filled with the chairs you see in this
photo. The ordered stacks of chairs in this photo
express the human values of order and mankind's desire
and ability to order his world but above all the photo
expresses the human values of fear and mistrust. Why
else wrap the chairs in chains and lock them tight?
The incongruity in this photo is purely visual in
nature, the contrasting of the vertical and horizontal
pieces of wood with the diagonals of the chains. They
also contrast in their shape, texture and colour. The
image has been abstracted by the cropping of all the
edges of the stack which denies the viewer any chance
of placing the subject matter in a broader context.
Thanks to this abstraction the viewer is forced to
consider the chairs and the chains and nothing else.


Inconguities and human values can be found in most
places in the world if you look for them.

The world we live in is full of images of human values
we see the world through human eyes and place our
values on it. So while the world is full of humans,
and therefore obvious images of human values, even
where there are no humans we can visualise human
values eg. dogs playing together hints at the human
value of comradeship.

The world we live in is NOT full of incongruities.
The world we live in is full of order. The thing is
that we are so attuned to the order in the world that
when something is DIFFERENT, ie incongruous, it stands
out from the order and we notice it. We LIKE
incongruities. They make us stop and point and say
'Oh, look at that!'. They make us wonder 'why?'. The
more we look for inconguities the more we see them but
they will always be outnumbered by order.

So, we are surrounded by human values, and
incongruities are there to be found, but putting the
two together in a photo is a different matter. And
then abstracting them is another matter again.

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