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What is a landscape? This question was the starting point for this project. Is it a representation of a certain expectation of what is natural beauty? is it a mind-mapping technique to apprehend the world in its diversity? Is it a tool to negotiate our relationship with nature? In this series, I wanted to explore landscape as a frontier, a relation between two worlds, a liminal space, a place that escape usual taxonomy.
Foreign agents (2019-ongoing)
In response to the increasingly virulent anti foreigner rhetoric in the UK and Europe, I use the traditional racist trope "They are everywhere" (Ils sont partout"). Using "We" instead of "They" reverses the power dynamic. By embracing a perverted version of this slogan, foreigners proudly assert that they are here to stay and won't apologise for existing. A Daily Mail nightmare.
Magic World, Hyeres, France (2022)
Luna Parks seemed like a magical, exotic place for a six year olds, a place full of joy and excitement. Then adulthood occurs and the magic disappears, leaving in its place the cold reality: crumbling buildings and salmonella-ridden food. The bright colours reminiscent of warm sunny summer take on a sinister tone in the grey weather of autumn; as if all the magic had drained away and revealed a bleak, surreal, end-of-civilization reality made of empty tacos houses and wind-swept Mayan pyramids. As if the end of the world happened in cheerful technicolor.
Now I am become death (2022)
This sentence by Robert Oppenheimer (from the Hindu text the Bhagavad-Gita), on witnessing the first atomic explosion really defines contemporary times. We are in an age of extinction, where 250 years of rampant capitalism has brought us to the edge of destruction. Oppenheimer was wrong, what will bring us to extinction is not the atomic bomb but climate change. Yet we still continue to produce, consume and live like nothing is happening. This series is a testimony to an age of plenty, an age of convenience, an age that is quickly coming crashing down.
Hidden nature (2022)
Nature is a constant presence along the M6. Despite the pollution, it would only take a matter of months for nature to completely overrun this infrastructure. Nature is waiting, slowly but surely moving in, colonising every space that will sustain life. A quiet, yet unstoppable invasion, hidden in front of our eyes.
Front Garden stories (in collaboration with Chris Rose) (2020)
Neat or messy, paved or lawned, front gardens are quintessentially English, defining our expectations about the inhabitant's social class. Chris Rose wrote short narratives that reveal the stories behind the curtains and the plastic fences. What was for me an exploration of the class system through one of its visual representations became for Chris an exploration of the mundane, the bizarre, and the absurd hidden in those spaces. Two approaches that resulted in a fascinating conversation between texts and images.
The Coronadiaries; Views from the Van (2020-2021)
During the pandemic, I worked for a charity collecting and redistributing surplus food from supermarkets to charities and community groups. I traveled across Birmingham every day for the duration of the pandemic, delivering supplies to community groups, charities, and food banks. The Views from the Van series is a visual record of the empty streets, desolate places, and random industrial estates I visited. This series of over 200 images reveals the tediousness of life under lockdown, and the Lynchian quality of empty cities as if the fabric of life was ripped apart to reveal its bare bones.
You are who you watch (2021)
In a world where surveillance and control have become a battleground between governments and their own citizens, whom we watch and who watches us is a key battleground. Yet now we happily broadcast and watch, often at the same time, both watchers and watched, in an endless feedback loop. The watcher and watched, like Janus, part of the same persona. A Kafkaesque dystopia meeting the Schrödinger principle. Pick your side?
What would God's own city look like? St Augustine describes the city of God as stable, eternal, and a source of eternal consolation. His city is now a vast frozen space not of contemplation but of despair and disaster. God has left the place that he never occupied in the first place. St Augustine would cry at the desolation of his ideal city.
Spaghetti Junction (2020)
This iconic motorway exchange in Birmingham, UK is a defining feature of the city. The Gravelly Hill Interchange, to give it its official name, dominates large parts of the North of the city and represents, in all its glory, the Modernist ideal of cars before people. There is a strange dichotomy between the optimism of the roads, standing tall on pillars, dominating whole neighbourhoods: a monument to post-war optimism that talks of the possibility for our parents and grandparents to travel freely, visit new places, trade faster, enter the modern world with a smile on their faces while they load their cars with products bought in gigantic shopping centres, and the world below the pillars, the dark underpasses, the dirty canals, the interlope inhabitants, the rubbish, the working belly of the beast, ready to swallow its children. The darkness at its heart that was always there.
People of Naples (2019)
Naples is a city like no other; anarchic, anachronistic, impossible to control, and full of energy that feels always on the brink of boiling point. It is and always was a melting pot, from its birth as a Greek city to the Spanish and the Dutch, the Arabs and the French, the city is multi-layered in history and ethnicities. With the refugee crisis brewing at its doors, Naples is once more at the forefront of human migration, creaking and shaking to fit more inhabitants within its antique walls.
Il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux (2019)
Vesuvius has a rich mythology. One of the most poignant stories is the story of Sisyphus, the most human of heroes, who wanted to cheat death and was punished for it. The title is the last sentence of Albert Camus's essay The Myth of Sisyphus in which he defines his philosophy of the absurd. In his essay, Camus asks the question of whether knowing the absurdity of life should lead to suicide. His answer is no, it should lead to revolt. This series uses the very landscape that inspired this myth and essay, the desolate nature of the landscape mirroring the desolate soul of man once he realises the absurdity of life; a realisation that paradoxically frees him, like Sisyphus is freed by the realisation that his task is endless and purposeless, both attain an ontological freedom that cannot be taken from them. Despite their starkness, those landscapes are also peaceful and meditative, as is the mind once it manages to accept the absurdity of it all.
Meet me at the end of the world (2019)
Meet me at the end of the world represents the start and end point of these women's travels through Europe, starting in the South of Italy and ending in Birmingham. Anonymous people in unknown territories confronted by the hatred of part of the indigenous population.
The bright harsh midday light crushes everything and everybody. It is light to avoid, too hot, too bright, and too unpleasant. The kind of light that can induce people to murder, like Meursault in L'Etranger. It is the moment before the madness, the calm before the storm.
Borges Ad Nauseam (2018)
Lynchean nightmares: those industrial estates talk to us about our darkest fears, an animalistic response to an unnatural environment. Very little information is given by near identical warehouses, yet they entice us to start creating narratives, imagining all sorts of scenarios, but we soon realise that we create narratives without stories.
Wait not want (2017)
Research stage of a Dance film project in collaboration with Jerrel Jackson Dance Company and commissioned by MAC Birmingham. This series explores the self and its relation to the urban environment, how we function in big cities, and how we recreate territories around us. The idea was to use locations that are frontiers in the postcode wars, reclaiming them as public spaces while exploring their myths about masculinity.
Ill Fated (2017)
What is going on behind closed doors? what do people do in their lounges? probably not much more than watching TV and eating food. but what about the other? How many are they? How many secrets are hidden behind those neat front lawns? For how many people are those perfect neighbourhood's nightmares they are unable to escape? A series of questions without knowable answers, existential questions, child-like questions, obsessive questions that we forget as soon as we think them, just like those landscapes taken from the window of a car, evanescent punctum frozen in blurry times.
Lost in the shell (2017)
This series was taken at Blaenavon, Wales, a disused coal mine. Once the town was a key cog in the capitalist development of the UK, yet now it is an industrial wasteland. The rampant industrialisation that brought immense wealth to a few individuals has left large scars on people's lives and living conditions. This series is an ode to human futility, to communities exploited then left to rot, disappearing in poverty, while capitalists move to new horizons.
In Arcadia Ego (2016)
The title is taken from Poussin's Et in Arcadia ego (also in Paradise I am). Lke Poussin's shepherds we are left in awe of an inscrutable nature, a deep ancient secret. We want to know and see nature. Marwell Zoo "re-presents", repackage nature for easy consumption, "nature" on a stage designed for awe and wonder. We are presented with wild animals in absurdly safe locations, on green lawns, behind protective fencings. The wonders of the wild safely displayed. A recreation of a lost paradise somewhere along the M6.
Trailer trash (2015)
This tiny mobile home campsite Near Penzance in Cornwall hosts a mixed population of permanent residents and holiday-makers. The idyllic setting is confronted with the reality of people living in trailers, hidden away. The clues to recognise who is who are subtle and discrete, hidden in some deep-rooted social and class signals.
Last stand (2008-2013)
A documentation of my grandfather's last few years. Taken in familiar and casual settings those images are an intimate and direct record of the slow opening of the abyss, his descent into oblivion, the slow but sure loss of his humanity. Despite this there was a man behind the disease, a man full of fear, quashed hopes, assessing his life, his regrets, his achievements. The veil of oblivion might have covered his memory but until the end he remembered that he loved and was loved.
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