Update: It seems that Two for the Road is now defunct, which is a shame, and the link to one of the images has been lost. I’ve left this post up anyway because I think that the points it makes are valid all the same.
A little over a year ago I was asked to start a project by composing pairs of images. It was an engaging exercise in that it meant really thinking about what was to be communicated; the act of juxtaposition directs attention, highlights content, creates comparisons, changes the meaning and message of the images. It’s a powerful way of challenging our initial reactions, inviting the viewer to look for the complexity behind the comparison.
For this reason Two for the Road caught my attention. Diverse images by a whole range of photographers are presented in pairs. Sometimes the comparisons are strikingly visual; sometimes they’re subtler, rooted in content or context. They’re always thought-provoking, and many of the artists featured deserve attention in their own right.
Jennifer Machiarelli, Tim Barber
Today I am again thinking about museum design, and the role of juxtaposition is on my mind. How it can create relationships, and what they mean. How the comparisons form part of a narrative. How that narrative is directed. How to structure a visit, a journey, to allow this to happen – to give depth to each exhibit by placing it in a meaningful context. How to allow new meanings to emerge. How to maintain clarity. When I’m in danger of being overwhelmed by the historiographical complexity, the sophisticated, controlled example set by Two for the Road is a valuable guide and a reminder of why working with juxtaposition is powerful, elegant, exhilarating and provocative.