Calvin Dolley’s most recent Image/Text installation work ‘Schengen’ is a reaction to his time spent living in Germany 1994-2006 and the resultant Brexit referendum in 2016, its wider consequences and repercussions. It is both an academic and visceral reaction to the need for union and understanding of cultural difference, as an attempt has been made, not without fault, to bring a post-war European free trade zone into fruition. A non-literal work that in essence touches on the free movement of peoples, an initial trade agreement between France, Germany and Luxemburg to the global resonance of the European Union.
The final pieces themselves are exhibited in an installation type setting in which the viewer, at a certain distance, initially sees single words, on coming closer to each specific photograph a smaller text embedded within the image that relate to other words in each sequence. The intention is to entice an active rather than passive involvement in the viewing process. Each statement is deliberately ambiguous or open ended to leave space for a multi-layered or even subjective reading of each panel. The use of the Pantone shades, blue and yellow and also font type as used by the European Union in the works themselves is intentional. A little provocation is added at times for good measure, playing on our understanding of both image or written word. The aim is to (un) anchor meaning - playing with a ‘gap’ or ‘shifter’ in intended message. Such hints are triggered toward an unsatisfactory reading of the works in question that combine elements of chance and/or unresolved definitions relating both to the written word and photograph itself. An inherent lack of description or definitive meaning is intentional, leaving space for the spectator to bring to the works their own sense of understanding within such a viewing context. The project itself mimics earlier works produced in 1990, in its Photoshopped form, paying homage to that photographic process.