In Bristol there is a city-wide exhibition of, I think, 79 statues of Gromit the dog from the Wallace and Gromit animation films. These are scattered throughout the city in various public areas, squares, gardens. One is even inside the cathedral as though catering for a new type of worshipper.
I am wandering round the city with my friend Chris and his three-year old daughter Clara and each time we come across a Gromit she wants to touch it, kiss it, be with it for a couple of minutes. Other city visitors, Gromit tourists, are more systematic. I think there is some kind of ‘be photographed with every Gromit in Bristol’ challenge going on. I do not know whether the rules of this challenge specify that a three-year old girl cannot also be in the photo near the Gromit or on the other side of its six-foot body. In any case, we witness considerable impatience with the three-year old. Why doesn’t she understand that modern people, not just kids but adults too, need to be photographed alone with these plastic effigies? We are confused by this desire to document an exclusive relationship with the imaginary dog. Last week I came across a similar compulsion when a grown man told me he had come all the way from Israel to be photographed alone repeat alone in front of the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. Again children had to be cleared away from the background, this time a five year old as well as a three-year old, before I took the picture of him ALONE in front of the Peter Pan statue. His committment to Peter Pan was such that he could not bear having any children sharing the frame with him.