, , , ,

This post continues from Exercise – 1st Question at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/exercise-1st-question/

Question: What do you think she means by ‘an ending without an ending’?

On one level ‘an ending without an ending’ relates I think to memory. Sontag said of photography that:

All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt (Sontag, 1977:15).

But clearly, in the context of such a project, it alludes to more than this straightforward quality of photography. Campbell states that her Dad’s description of ‘the glow’ inside (which she says is not a spiritual reference):

was very affirming for me because I have it too (though I’d never really articulated the feeling), and this was a huge influence on my desire to photograph Dad’s journey towards death. Firstly, because he gave it to me. I don’t think there are many greater gifts you can give your child, and I wanted to thank him somehow. And secondly, with the glow inside me, I knew that by doing The Dad Project we could look at the half-full-glass together (Campbell, 2011).

Campbell perceives a continuance despite the death, something that she has been given, a gift handed from parent to child. In religious societies such sentiments would likely be smothered and swallowed up by habit and ritual. Roland Barthes wrote:

For Death must be somewhere in a society; if it is no longer (or less intensely) in religion, it must be elsewhere; … Photography may correspond to the intrusion, in our modern society, of an asymbolic death, outside of religion, outside of ritual, a kind of abrupt dive into literal death (Barthes, 1980:92).

One of the considerations that persuaded Campbell to undertake the project was the thought that it would be ‘as universal as it was personal’ (Campbell, 2011). Again, the project’s photography is something that is ‘outside of religion, outside of ritual’ (above) but nevertheless, like religion, aspires to be universal and, succeeding, can therefore easily accommodate in the face of death the human sentiment of ‘a story of an ending without an ending’.


Barthes, Roland (1980) Camera Lucida. Bungay: Chaucer Press

Campbell, Bryony (2011) The Dad Project [online] At: http://www.brionycampbell.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/The_Dad_Project_Briony_Campbell.pdf (Accessed on 15.10.14)

Sontag, Susan (1977) On Photography, London, Penguin Books