Books, books and more books.
There have been many photobooks in my life recently. What a wonderful thing that is! Over the next few posts I am going to share a few recent purchases and kind gifts that have been sent my way, and round up the 2nd PhotoBookFestival in Vienna, Austria I attended a few weeks ago.
First up, is In the Company of an Invisible Man by Harry Rose, who has just graduated from Newport University, South Wales. Harry also does a fair share of writing and general sharing of wonderful photography over at Darwin Magazine. If you’ve not checked them out, I suggest you do. This intimate book is the culmination of the photographers final year project, and holds within it a mediation on loss, memory of place, and of person. Below is an extract from the accompanying essay in the book by Kate Mercer;
“In his body of work, In the Company of an Invisible Man, Harry Rose explores notions of loss, memory and human relationships within landscape photography. Specifically, his work focuses on a particular landscape that has influenced him personally as well as professionally. Having kept his distance from this place for some time, Rose has been drawn back to photograph this landscape, to reflect and find some inner peace. Retracing walks and journeys from countless miles travelled through his youth, Rose guides us through the landscape he photographs giving the audience access to treasures and memories collected along these routes. Through significant objects, rock minerals, childhood photographs, immersing himself back into the environment, Rose explores not individuality but an awareness of self and a search for identity in a key psychological landscape formed from his subjective experiences.”
As a keen observer of graduate work I have come to realise the sheer amount of introspective work being produced. Quite often this overtly personal work can alienate a viewer. In Rose’s work however, I am granted access into the wider focus of the project. Present within is a weighty contemplativeness as Rose’s photographs of wind shaped landscapes, age-old trees uprooted or rock piles reminiscent of an ancient burial site come together to evoke a sense of time and loss, while also, and perhaps most powerfully, represent a psychological journey that is applicable to each of us. The often harsh elemental forces which have carved this landscape mimics our life journey; a marriage of creation, beauty, erosion and loss.
America is a country I have a huge fascination with. It is a country which is young, yet has such a rich, complex history and vast mythology surrounding its landscape. I have yet to visit this country, so feed this fascination by digesting the literature, television, films and photography it produces in plentiful amounts. My view of America is a non-reality in many respects, sculpted and built via the creative minds of others. It is their representation, not my own experience. It aids my attempts to understand this vast, diverse land and its people, but, as with anything, only scratches the surface often leaving me with more questions than answers.
Alexander Missen, a talented photographer and fellow resident of Britain, found America presented him with questions. From the basic curiosities about the place and its people - to the most jarring: “What causes familiarity towards a place you have never been to before”.
With this in mind, Missen boarded a plane, and ventured across the United States in an attempt to find answers.
“Travelling across the United States for the first time it soon became apparent that the visual identity of the place is inherently intertwined with the mythos of the country. We understand this place through cars, half-familiar faces and mountain ranges. As this identity is explored one becomes aware that the nature of this relationship between the place and its aesthetic is cyclical. To photograph it is to simultaneously record and create it.”
Through Missen’s images, we can examine a minor slice of America. He presents a selection of photographs which appear to be taken from seemingly varied locations, separated by unrevealed distances. From desert flats and lush forest to the ever evocative and luring road carving through hills, misspelt religious prophecies and the “half-familiar faces” encountered along the way, these photographs act as a record to Missen’s unique experience, but in turn creates yet another new narrative of America.
Q & A is a great collection of photographs, which is still expanding. I am certainly looking forward to more from Missen in the future..