For over a century Bolingbroke Hospital in southwest London stood at the heart of the local community. After it shut down in 2009 the St. George's Hospital Arts Trust commissioned Jason Oddy to commemorate the place. With his 5x4 plate camera he spent days wandering around this giant corpse of a building. The pictures he made are the coda to a very human story. A story of injuries and illnesses. Of pain and recovery. Of birth and of death. The whole cycle of existence playing itself out year after year.
By the time Oddy arrived all that was left was a twilight world of things. Things once useful, now forlorn and abandoned. The bits and pieces that had been the support of so many lives. Here, where people and names have long since disappeared, who gets to decide what should be kept and what should be forgotten? With his camera the artist helped salvage some small scraps of memory. A row of empty chairs waiting vainly for new occupants. Electrical fittings tacked to a wall like some minimalist composition. A pair of folding doors left enigmatically ajar.
By immersing himself in a building, by himself becoming silent, Oddy manages to listen in on a building's thoughts. Led by his slow-moving camera he finds those spots, those details where the undeclared forces and unspoken histories most tellingly converge. His is a work of both intuition and precision, producing photographic artefacts onto which the fugitive, barely perceptible effects of architectural space are duly transcribed.
After all, isn't this what photography does best? Alchemically turning sight into knowledge? Helping us see things that would otherwise remain hidden, things which we are conditioned habitually to overlook?