Shrine is an ongoing research project that explores the re-presentation of devotional iconography through the photographic medium. Documenting and recording a wide range of pre-selected evocative shrines – religious and secular, historical and contemporary – investigating the importance of photography in the documentation and fabrication of shrines. Using a large format (5x4 inch) analogue field camera, every intricate detail of the shrine can be recorded. These recorded details were then exhibited as large format prints (two metres wide), thus enabling the viewer to engage with the minutiae of any particular shrine, able to inspect closely the mementoes, photos, candles, hand-written messages and other materials that compose the shrine’s fabric. No other medium has the capacity to capture these details that are crucial to an understanding of how the shrine works for devotees in way that is analogous to actually visiting the site itself. The prints, which have been archived, also act to preserve the texture and symbolic integrity of what are often ephemeral creations, dismantled, dispersed or eroded by natural forces.
The inclusion of Shrine in various international exhibitions was the result of open competition and the photographs have received awards (Project Development Award, Center Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA 2011). At the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition in 2011, they were exhibited in the Wohl Central Hall that also included work by Cindy Sherman and Gillian Wearing. They have been frequently reviewed: in Image magazine (December 2010); the Sunday Times ‘Spectrum’ supplement (June 2011); and the Sunday Telegraph’s ‘Seven’ supplement (February 2013), and Fraser has delivered papers on the iconography of remembrance. His work makes a distinctive contribution to commemoration studies, particularly through its engagement with what Sylvia Grider terms ‘spontaneous shrines’ that accrete round sites of disaster and public trauma and that encode a myriad of complex messages about grief, loss, the rituals of mourning and the potential for reconciliation.
Fraser, A. (2010). Shrine - an ongoing research project that explores the re-presentation of devotional iconography through the photographic medium