- PhMuseum 2023 Photography Grant
Dates2022 - 2022
- Location Lower Normandy
“To give truth the colour and narrative force of fiction,” this was Truman Capote’s ambition when he wrote "In Cold Blood", the true account of a quadruple homicide in 1960s Kansas. This is the starting point for "Non Fiction", a work of lyrical documentary that explores the porous boundary between fact and fiction in photography.
Since its beginnings, photography has had a complex relation to truth: even the most ‘objective’ portraits will necessarily involve decisions relating to location, light and pose. In "Non Fiction", this tension is pushed to its extreme through a variety of visual strategies e.g. staging, off-camera flash, subverting cinematic clichés. Images based on rumours, local news stories and chance encounters accumulate and coalesce, to form a narrative that is fluid and multidirectional. Framed in this way, daily life is transformed: every window hides secrets, every person becomes a protagonist, every object becomes a clue or a piece of evidence. Everything is real, everything is fake, but one thing is for certain: fact is at least as strange as fiction.
In the current context, where the boundary between what is real and what isn’t is increasingly ambiguous (e.g. fake news, alternative facts, infotainment, AI generated imagery…), it seems more pertinent than ever to reflect on our relation to reality and how this is mediated through images.
The project was made across Normandy in 2022 during an extended residency organised by the Planches Contact photography festival in Deauville, France. It was exhibited at Les Franciscaines museum in Normandy (October 2022 - January 2023) alongside work by Raymond Depardon, Bettina Rheims and others. The exhibition was accompanied by a limited edition, forty-eight page newsprint publication designed by Melanie Mues. “Non Fiction” was also selected by Coralie Kraft, photo editor at The New York Times Magazine, to be published in Fotofilmic JRNL14 and will be exhibited in Canada in spring 2023.
The Residency Bursary at Landskrona Foto would be an invaluable opportunity to deepen my engagement with the themes explored in “Non Fiction“ by further complicating the narrative through the layering of different media and ‘levels’ of truth. The specific context of Sweden, with its deep-rooted folkloric myths make it a particularly fertile place in which to do so, as fact and fiction have already collided in interesting and unexpected ways. The project would take shape through two distinct approaches. Firstly, expanding on the method I employed in “Non Fiction”, I would photograph and film the region of Landskrona in a ‘documentary’ fashion. Photographic portraits, landscapes and still lifes will be created alongside a series of video interviews in which local people share memories, anecdotes and local lore. I would also explore the local archives for photographs, news clippings and historical paintings and postcards, and attempt to meet locals who are willing to share family photographs and home-video footage. If the first approach is aimed at collecting ‘documents’, the second introduces a dimension of ‘artifice’ to the work through a variety of narrative and visual strategies designed to blur the lines between past and present, truth and untruth. These will include scripted interviews, staged photographs, and the creation of false archival materials through the use of AI text and image generators. This layering of documents, both real and fabricated, constitutes the ‘near documentary’ approach which I am intent on exploring during the Residency Bursary at Landskrona Foto.