A Freudian analysis of the re-emergence of a child’s shoe.


During my repeated visits to Broadmarsh it has been impossible to ignore the rubbish littered around the landscape and woven into the Earth itself. Broadmarsh is a man-made nature reserve spread across the top of a capped land-fill site that was in use during the 1960’s and 1970’s. I have been exploring the rubbishes presence through photography and a further pair of binary opposites presence/absence which in turn has lead me to an area of Freudian psychoanalysis; in “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (1920) (Adams 1996) Freud discussed the issue of presence and absence with his observation of his grandsons fort/da game; fort means gone/absent and da means there/present.
I will expand on my thought process with the help of my most emotive find to date; a child’s black patent leather shoe. The shoe started its life in the world as a useful object, it was there and it was present. When it was thrown away it became rubbish, it was gone and it was absent. The rubbish was thrown in the damp and buried; the dump in turn was capped and landscaped into Broadmarsh Nature Reserve. The dump is now being eroded by the weather, drawing the rubbish out of its absent state within the dump, into a present state on the beach. The dump has become a massive fort/da game played by thousands of people who thought they had thrown their rubbish away, discarded it, expected it to be gone forever.
With my photography I am noticing and recording the returned presence of the once discarded, absent rubbish into our landscape. The people who threw this rubbish away may be absent, but the items I find bridge the gap and conjure up their presence. The shoe was buried in the dump, it had gone. One shoe has emerged and with its presence it highlights the absence of the other missing shoe that was its pair, and we imagine its presence.
The pair of shoes leads to thoughts of a pair of feet which, in turn, leads to thoughts of the one who wore them and what happened to the wearer. I can imagine a small girl running around in these super smart shoes feeling very proud. The shoes, over time, moulding themselves to the feet of the child, therefore leaving a visible trace of the girl who wore this shoe embedded within it. Does this re-emergence make us feel more secure, as the fort/da game reassured the child playing it? His Mother had left the room but she would return, or should we actually be worried?


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