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03 March 2022

In Conversation with Julia Fullerton-Batten about her New Publication

03 March 2022 - Written by Nora Criado Diaz

We spoke with Julia Fullerton-Batten about the making of her new book Looking Out From Within which compiles photographs of her London neighbours during the first lockdown. 

Julia Fullerton-Batten is a UK-based photographer born in Germany whose work has been internationally exhibited. Her photography is characterized by strong and evocative narratives that deal with the human condition, Looking Out from Within is her last photographic series, that shaped into a book, depicts the life of her local neighbors during the first lockdown, combining photographs and interviews.

“Suddenly everybody was at home, everybody was locked in, it was a very strange time. I have always been drawn by the work of E. Hopper, who does a lot of paintings of windows and often at twilight. During my daily walks around my local neighborhood I noticed people looking out of their windows in a lonely way, I thought it would make a very beautiful photograph, and I tried to make it as true as possible but keeping my cinematic style”. 

Julia selected her subjects through the answers she received after posting an ad online for her local area, and also by leaving a letter on the mailbox of the houses she found interesting during her walks. The process was a bit overwhelming for the many replies she received, “people suddenly had time, and they all liked the idea of being photographed by a professional photographer”. In order to select she asked them to take pictures of themselves and their windows, besides the visual aspects, she also asked them about how they were dealing with the lockdown, to later include these small interviews with the photographs in the book. The element of the interviews is a key part of the project and plays an important role, for Julia everyone´s experiences and stories were different and interesting as a reflection of their reality.

In her photography Julia is characterized by the use of props and having quite a staged style, which became a challenge during the lockdown, “I wanted to bring in props that related to their lives and interesting vintage clothing, so I had to have things delivered to their homes, and some of them were very worried about Covid so they left it to hang outside for five days before touching it, it was a very slow process. I´m used to working with a big team, and suddenly I was with no one and had to ask my son and husband to carry some of the lighting”. 

In her work, overall, there is an ambiance of mystery, almost as if “something happened or is about to”, in this particular set of works this unsettlement feels even stronger due to the time it is depicting. A time when we were all waiting for something to snap us out from the “new reality” we were on, “I´m very drawn to that kind of split-second, to that anticlimax of something just happened. Absolutely is something true, that in fact, I discussed with them, people waiting in the window looking out for “it” to happen, for time to pass and hopefully, things going back to normal. A lot of my images are very still, and there is this feeling of timelessness in the sense of not being able to tell what time it is. It’s more questions than answers”. This special peculiarity of Julia´s style leaves the viewer to wonder about the reality of a set of images that are not explicitly about the pandemic but rather delicately refer to it.

The project was shot over a year and a half and the result was a self-published book that gathers images and interviews. Working with designer Sarah Boris accommodating the interviews into the book was a compromise, they can be found next to a smaller version of the images on the second half of the publication. For Julia, the concept of the book is very important, “I felt the need to have something more than just images sitting online, something that people could hold and go back to. I felt that it needed to be held in a book rather than just looking at a screen.” 

The book presents a die-cut hole on the cover that resembles the idea of windows, through which we see one of the sitters Looking out from within. Julia hopes that this book in the future will be picked up and looked at as a reflection of a weird time, expecting for people to reflect back on the surreal times we all lived, and be grateful that this time was recorded in some way. 

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All photos © Julia Fullerton-Batten from the series Looking Out From Within

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24 x 34cm // 80 pages // $88.00 // £45.00 (signed edition) // £190 (Special edition)

BUY HERE, HERE or HERE

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Julia Fullerton-Batten - (b.1970, Bremen, Germany) Lives and works in the UK. After completing her studies, Julia Fullerton-Batten studied photography and assisted professional photographers for five years. She became a professional photographer in 2001 becoming a worldwide acclaimed and exhibited fine-art photographer. She has published three books, Teenage Stories (2007), The Act (2017), and Looking Out From Within (2020), all available through her website.

Nora Criado Diaz - (b. 1999, Spain) is a young curator and writer based between Spain and Italy. Through her studies at Central Saint Martins (London) and IED (Florence) she has developed a strong interest in contemporary visual culture and semiology.

Written by

Nora Criado Diaz

Reading time

6 minutes

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