FINAL MAJOR PROJECT. ASSESSMENT RECESS.
As I’ve mentioned before throughout the development of my M.A. project, I frequently return to the anger I feel (as the son of an immigrant) around the trend of populist regression and prejudice prevalent in England and across the globe. This renewed penchant for scapegoating the ‘other’ for the failings of the State and its unforgivable move to deliberately marginalise and isolate diverse communities, is something that we as a nation were finally challenging until the retrograde shortsightedness of the Brexit project began. I am aware through making work in my recent fever-dream of anxiety that the project is shifting once again in response to this. Subtly perhaps, but on the move nonetheless.
For example, I now see the project in it’s current incarnation as a form of invocation. An attempt to ‘own’ the landscape for those of us who have roots or ancestry elsewhere but who have a right and desire to be in the UK. That narrative is increasingly being explored through these visual ‘songs’ born and wrought definitively in the landscape itself. Almost as forms of repossession and trespass.
It’s my belief that the true character of a landscape is one of inclusion, hospitality, complete acceptance – a haven for all without prejudice. In our divided times, it can therefore take on the additional layer of being a ‘political’ space. The roots of England, literally and historically, are diverse. For example, many of the fruits that grow in England at this time of year are non-native – brought here by other cultures either purposely or by accident, but given infinite succour either way. This of course extends into the presence of food in my work as memory portals, vehicles of genetic reminiscence.
On a creative level I am shape-shifting in context with both the project themes and how I am approaching making work. Anxiety is the fuel for sure, but also a deep, fluid desire to inquire into something indelibly of the times that keeps calling out to me to be examined. Something indefinable almost – a whisper of belonging. And, in that process, to also challenge the apathy that can so easily overcome me at a time when the overwhelm of basic survival is at the forefront of my mind for so many reasons.
I can say that I still remain lost and am yet to fully understand where this part of the project is headed. I am in a process of what Rebecca Solnit describes as ‘a chosen surrender’ (Solnit, 2006, pg. 6). I am able to see my way ahead but only just so far. Even so, I am willing not to fight this because, after all, there is no alternative. Like walking in dense fog, where only the direct area in front of us is visible and, beyond that veil, we have to trust that we are moving toward some secure destination.
Over the past four weeks or so, since my original project approach came off the rails and I was left floundering, I have had to redefine the parameters of how I make work. Both in context with the MA learning objectives and in terms of what it is I need in place as a practitioner to pursue my subjective practice. Especially at the stage of discovery and gestation.
I am in danger of repeating myself here, but perhaps it’s pertinent to take some of that redefining and propose a developing personal ‘manifesto’ of sorts? A state of play, as it were, as to how I am making work right now:
- DELIBERATELY FAST FROM/RATION PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPOSURE
- BE TRUTHFUL ABOUT THE TYPE OF PERSON I AM
- OWN MY PROCESS
- BE DEFIANT AND PIG-HEADED
- DON’T EXPECT ANYONE ELSE TO CARE ABOUT MY WORK – THAT’S FOR ME TO DO
- STOP OVER-THINKING AND ACT
- EVERYTHING IS EXAMINATION AND ENQUIRY
- ANXIETY IS NOT TO BE SHUNNED, IT TOO IS AN ENERGY
Actually, this is a kind of extension of a similar list I wrote after a discussion with photographer Laura Pannack which can be found in this post.
Not to get too self-help here, but I’m going to close out this tranche of thought with another Solnit quote: ‘…getting lost was not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind you who you are, who others think you are’ (Solnit, 2006, pg. 16). That ‘shaking off of the shackles’, especially in terms of redirecting myself and what others might think I am as a photographer and person is, I guess, what that mini-manifesto is all about and is the foundation of my changes in motivation.
Solnit, R. (2006). A Field Guide To Getting Lost. Edinburgh, Canongate Books.